Want to know how smartphone companies have been keeping themselves warm at night? They whisper ‘China, India, South America’ over and over again until they fall asleep. The reason, naturally, is that eight years on from the launch of the first iPhone, the West (that’s Europe and the US) has become pretty saturated with smartphones. With feature phones firmly out of the conversation and everyone and their Grandma playing Crossy Bird or something, the potential for expansion in the West is now pretty small. Not so in the likes of India, China and South America though. At least, until recently.

If the numbers coming out of analysis firm IDC are correct, we’re looking at the first decline in smartphone shipments within China for the first time in six years, and that’s bad news for young smartphone companies like Xiaomi, who have used massive expansion within their home nation as a springboard to boost their company valuation and expand elsewhere.

falling numbers

year on year growth

– Images courtesy of IDC

The numbers show that the market in China contracted by 4%, dropping to 98.8 million units shipped during the first quarter of 2015, down 8% from Q4 2014. In the West, we typically attribute a Q1 drop as part of the comedown from Christmas, but with that holiday not usually observed in China, we’re forced to draw other conclusions.

In a statement, Kitty Fok, MD of IDC China said: “Smartphones are becoming increasingly saturated in China. China is oftentimes thought of as an emerging market but the reality is that the vast majority of phones sold in China today are smartphones, similar to other mature markets like the US, UK, Australia, and Japan. Just like these markets, convincing existing users as well as feature phone users to upgrade to new smartphones will now be the key to further growth in the China market.”



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Ten fingers, five senses, one man, loads of Chinese smartphones.

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