With no smartphone growth in 2017, is it the end of the smartphone?

The Mary Meeker report from Kleiner Perkins was released recently with one key statistic; global shipments of smartphones grew zero percent in 2017. There is also data that shows the average cost of a smartphone is declining – largely due to the need for low-cost devices in emerging markets – so does this mean the end of smartphones?

In the US, 95% of people own a mobile phone with 77% holding a smartphone. This means that there are roughly 18% of people who are yet to embrace the smartphone generation and “upgrade” from their standard brick phone. The majority of those without a smartphone have shown to be over 50 which isn’t likely to surprise many.

However, despite this slowdown in growth, and subsequent difficulty to fins room for growth, there are still positive signs within the mobile industry that should instil confidence in marketers. Mobile-first marketing is still extremely relevant as people continue to access the internet via smartphones. Even more important to this data is that growth in internet access through smartphones was coupled with a decline in growth of desktop internet penetration.

This information, in the shortest summary possible, leads to point out that there is no need to for change in mobile marketing and it is still incredibly relevant. However, there are a few things worth noting;

  • There is still notable room for internet growth (with global internet penetration at just 50%) with the majority to be through smartphones.
  • Digital media will continue to grow on non-desktop devices especially with the emergence and development of smart speakers.
  • Mobile will continue to be the driver for marketing growth.
  • Social media will also become driven by mobile.

Despite the slowdown in smartphone growth in the US, mobile will continue to be the dominant force in marketing and internet penetration. Whilst smartphone usage may be close to its peak, internet penetration still has a long way to go and the majority of this growth will be through mobile.

Smart speakers will also see growth but will take notably longer to become a prominent force as early models continue to be improved upon. Marketers should therefore continue to emphasise the importance of mobile and continue to build upon the user experience on these devices. There is no case for mobile to decline given that its convenience and continued development of features continue to make it a necessity in developed and developing markets.