After a decade of record growth, the global mobile phone industry peaked in 2016/17. Innovation has slowed as phones reach the masses on a massive scale.
The loss of momentum in phone shipments is becoming increasingly visible on the manufacturer side, as shipments in China have contracted on the year.
Bloomberg cites a statement from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), an institute under the industry ministry, that said mobile phone shipments dropped to 34.8 million units in Nov.
CAICT said mobile phone shipments dropped 1.5% Y/Y last month, continuing the fall seen in Oct. when shipments plunged 6.7% on the year.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), global smartphone shipments are expected to drop to 1.37 billion units in 2019, down 7% from the 2016 peak.
Sangeetika Srivastava, the senior research analyst at IDC, said "Consumers continue to hold their devices for lengthier times, making sales difficult for the vendors and channels alike."
The IDC expects the global synchronized slowdown and an ongoing trade war between the US and China to continue the challenging environment into 2020.
The arrival of 5G phones could rebound the industry by 2023, with mobile phone sales expected to reach 1.48 billion, slightly above the peak from 2016. This means the mobile phone industry will remain below trend for the next several years.