Apple will report its first ever year-on-year fall in iPhone sales when it releases results for the three months ended March 2016 later this month. Nevertheless, the technology giant remains on course to sell its 1 billionth iPhone around July this year — and mobilesquared does not anticipate a marked reduction in its overall share of active smartphones over the next three years.
Apple is undoubtedly facing stiffer competition in major growth markets for smartphones such as China, where domestic brands like Huawei and ZTE, and cheaper lesser-known brands such as Meizu, Oppo and Xiaomi, are gaining traction. Moreover, early sales of the mid-range iPhone SE have not exactly been met with great fanfare, although this could be attributed to Apple pushing sales via pre-orders and the anticipated release of the iPhone 7 in September.
By the end of 2015, Apple had sold a total of 896.56 million iPhones worldwide since the first iconic device left the shops in June, 2007, and mobilesquared estimates around 593 million devices are still active. The company is due to report sales figures for the first three months of 2016 on April 25, with unit sales estimates ranging between 40-50 million — a decrease of 18-35% on the similar period of 2015. Assuming Apple hits the top end of forecasts, and even allowing for a similar decline in the three months to end-June, the company will still have sold a total of approximately 985.54 million iPhones by mid-year — with the 1-billion milestone due to be passed in July. If Apple does better than expected, then end-June may even be a possibility!
According to research by mobilesquared for a new databook — Global subscriptions & smartphone forecasts by country (2015-18) — there were approximately 2.74 billion smartphones in use worldwide end-2015 and we forecast this will reach 4.48 billion by end-2018. In the top 20 markets tracked by operating system, representing around 71% of total smartphones worldwide, mobilesquared found that Apple had 21.5% market share end-2015 and forecast a fall to 20.8% by end-2018. Nevertheless, this still means that the company will see total active iPhones over the period rise from 421.27 million to 660.56 million.
Active smartphones by OS (2015-18)*
Note: * 20 key markets
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