Foldable smartphones to total 30 million units by 2023: Gartner

By Xite - April 9, 2019
In the short term, Gartner analysts expect manufacturers to provide more form factor experimentation with foldable phones, as they aim to understand optimal usability patterns and user preferences.

As a number of OEM’s unveiled foldable smartphones during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Gartner estimates that foldable smartphones will account for five per cent of the high-end phones by 2023, amounting to 30 million units.

‘We expect that users will use a foldable phone as they do their regular smartphone, picking it up hundreds of times a day, unfolding it sporadically and typing on its plastic screen, which may scratch quickly depending on the way it folds,’ said Roberta Cozza, Research Director, Gartner.

However, during the next five years, the foldable phones will remain a niche product owing to the several manufacturing challenges. In addition to the bendable screen, the price is a barrier which is expected to decline with time. Currently, priced at approx. $2,000, foldable phones present too many trade-offs, even for many early technology adopters.

The market research firm further believes that global shipments of devices consisting of PCs, tablets and mobile phones are on pace to reach 2.21 billion units in 2019, exhibiting flat growth year over year. The PC market is expected to continue its downward trend, while the mobile phone market is set to return to growth in 2020.

For the eighth consecutive year, the PC market is at a standstill. The PC shipments will total 258 million units in 2019, a 0.6 per cent decline from 2018. Traditional PCs are set to decline thee per cent in 2019 to total 189 million units.

Consumers are increasingly retiring their PCs but not replacing them, with shipments down by another 2.5 million units in 2019. For businesses, the Windows 10 migration continues into the next phase. Gartner analysts predict that Windows 10 will represent 75 per cent of the professional PC market by 2021.

The shipments of mobile phones are estimated to reach 1.8 billion units in 2019, a decline of 0.5 per cent year over year. Consumers now have reached a threshold and are not ready to upgrade unless new smartphones provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences.

Gartner expects that the high-end mobile phone market will continue to show a decline in mature markets during 2019.

In 2020, the mobile phone market is forecast to return to growth, with increase of 1.2 percent in shipments from 2019.

‘Nevertheless, vendors need to realise that consumers are extending the lifetime of their phones. Gartner expects the average high-end phone lifetime to increase from 2.6 years to 2.8 years through 2023,’ added Cozza.

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