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Why North American Smartphone Growth Is Slowing

North American smartphone sales grew at a faster pace than global sales in 2015, but North American unit and dollar sales went south in the fourth quarter, research company  GfK said.

North America will underperform the global market in 2016, with unit sales up only 1.6 percent and dollar volume falling 0.9 percent, the company added.

North American growth is trending down because the region is “one of the most mature markets in the world,” said Kevin Walsh, GfK’s director of trends and forecasting. On top of that, because North America is “one of the most competitive markets” in the world, “the carrier emphasis will move more to retention than acquisition, possibly lengthening replacement cycles,” he told TWICE.

In addition, “more contract-free packages are coming to market, encouraging consumers to hold on to their handset for longer in exchange for lower monthly tariffs,” he said.

GfK tracks unit and dollar sales by end-user purchases, including enterprise purchases. It bases dollar figures on the unsubsidized price of phones.

Here’s GfK’s breakout of North American unit and dollar sales compared to global sales:

2015 full-year North American unit sales: 190.7 million, up 7.9 percent.

2015 global unit sales: 1.31 billion, up 7 percent

2015 North American dollar volume: $77.9 billion, up 8.2 percent

2015 global dollar volume: $399.2billion, up 5 percent

Q4 North American unit sales: 56.4 million, down 1.1 percent

Q4 global unit sales: 368.1 million, up 6.4 percent

Q4 North American dollar volume: $23.9 billion, down 6.5 percent

Q4 global dollar volume: $115.2 billion, down 0.2 percent

2016 North American unit sales: 193.7 million, up 1.6 percent

2016 global unit sales: 1.4 billion, up 7 percent

2016 North American dollar volume: $77.2 billion, down 0.9 percent

2016 global dollar volume:  $401.3 billion, up 0.5 percent.