According the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), total smartphone shipments are expected to grow by 10.4 percent in 2015 to reach 1.44 billion units. This new forecast is lower than IDC's previous smartphone forecast of 11.3 percent year-over-year growth in 2015.
Smartphone shipments within China will now join North America and Western Europe in a more mature growth pattern. However, the ongoing fall of average selling prices (ASPs) will fuel steady growth through the end of the forecast period, with global shipments forecast to reach 1.9 billion units in 2019.
As the largest market for smartphones -- China consumed 32.3 percent of all new smartphone shipments in 2014 -- its importance is still significant, even if its growth has begun to slow.
Shipments are forecast to grow just 1.2 percent year-over-year in 2015, which is down from 19.7 percent in 2014. China will remain the largest market for smartphone volumes throughout the forecast period. However, its share of the overall market is expected to drop to 23.1 percent in 2019 as high-growth markets like India continue to expand.
"China clearly remains a very important market. However, the focus will be more on exports than consumption as domestic growth slows significantly," said Ryan Reith, program director at IDC. "India has captured a lot of the attention that China previously received and it's now the market with the most potential upside."
Despite Apple's continued progress with its variants of the iPhone, IDC believes that the story among operating systems is not expected to change throughout the forecast period, with Android's 81 percent share in 2015 carrying forward until 2019.
Markets with the biggest growth opportunity are extremely price sensitive, which IDC believes will not change, and this is the main reason Apple will be challenged to take Android share throughout the forecast period.
Even if Apple were to introduce a lower-cost iPhone, in an attempt to gain more market share, IDC believes these devices will struggle to compete with Android OEMs that are focused on value-based smartphone portfolios aimed at price points of $200 and less.
Android shipments globally are expected to grow from 1.06 billion in 2014 to 1.54 billion in 2019, while iOS shipments will grow from 192.7 million in 2014 to 269.6 million in 2019. The IDC view that Microsoft Windows Phone will remain a marginal challenger, at best, has not changed.