Nuremberg, Germany – Retail-level sales of smartphones in North America exceeded the global growth rate in the first quarter and will continue to do so for the full year, market research company GfK said.
The company also found the share of big-screen smartphones with screen sizes of 5 inches and up to be growing faster in the U.S. than in the world as a whole.
In the first quarter, North American smartphone sales grew 17 percent in units to 42.3 million and 20 percent in dollars to $17.1 billion. Global unit sales, however, grew only 7 percent to 309.7 million on dollar growth of 8 percent to $96.2 billion.
For the full year, the company forecasts North American unit growth of 11 percent to 196.7 million and a matching 11 percent gain in dollar volume to $80.5 billion. Worldwide, unit volume will grow 10 percent 1.36 billion on dollar growth of 6 percent to $403.6 billion, GfK forecasts.
Dollar volume is based on unsubsidized retail pricing.
Global unit growth slowed from the fourth quarter’s 19 percent year-over-year gain because of a 14 percent decline in China and a 5 percent decline in developed Asia, the company said. “The weakness in China was caused by a significant slowdown in 3G demand, which was not offset by 4G growth,” said Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting. “We forecast China to return to growth in the second half of the year, driven by a continued 4G ramp-up.
In developed Asia, the year-on-year decline was caused by tough comparisons with the year-ago quarter, when demand was pulled forward in Japan due to an upcoming VAT increase in April 2014, he said. But growth will return to hit 3 percent in 2015, he said.
In North America and throughout the world, big-screen smartphones with screen sizes of 5 inches and up are gaining smartphone share, GfK also found.
Large-screen phones accounted for 70 percent of North American smartphone unit sales in the first quarter, up from the year-ago 59 percent, driven by strong demand for high-end phones, GfK said. Globally, big-screen phones accounted for 47 percent of smartphone sales, up from the year-ago 32 percent. In China, big-screen models accounted for 57 percent of sales, up from the year-ago 32 percent.
GfK forecasts that big-screen share will continue to grow in 2015 to account for 69 percent of global smartphone sales in 2015.
GfK’s quarterly numbers are based on POS tracking data in more than 90 global markets, except in the U.S., where the company uses proprietary market modeling and consumer research.