IDC: the ‘iPhone 8’ will spur a ‘major upgrade cycle’ in 2018

Global smartphone shipments are expected to maintain positive growth through 2021, according to a new forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. And the outlook for Apple’s iPhone is extremely bright.

Apple is expected to demonstrate nominal 1.5% year-over-year growth in 2017. This is a considerable improvement from the 7% decline in iPhone shipments in 2016. From there, things only get better for Apple, as IDC anticipates the arrival of the iPhone 8 will spur a major upgrade cycle come 2018. 

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Despite the new device launching later this year, IDC expects a majority of the shipments are likely to land early in 2018. IDC projects 9.1% growth in 2018 with the iPhone 8 and the new 7S/7S+ models playing a pivotal part in the near double-digit growth next year.

IDC expects worldwide smartphone shipments to grow from 1.47 billion in 2016 to just over 1.7 billion in 2021. In 2016, the market experienced its first-ever single-digit growth year with shipments up just 2.5% over 2015. The research group believes the combination of new user demand as well as a somewhat stagnant two-year replacement cycle will be enough to keep the market at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3%.

The story around operating system market share hasn't changed much in the past couple of years and this recent forecast doesn’t call for much change, according to IDC. Apple has generally held 14-15% share and Android 85% with the the bits and pieces spread across a few dying platforms. 

However, when analyzing this by market value based on non-subsidized device retail pricing the story is quite different. By 2021, IDC expects Apple to own 36% of the device market value, equaling roughly $180 billion. This is over half the combined value of all other Android original equipment manufactures combined and does not include revenue from services or its app ecosystem.

"The high-end spectrum of the smartphone market shows no signs of slowing down as we expect the average selling price of a smartphone to increase over 7% in 2017," says Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Premium phablet offerings from a variety of vendors look to be the main driving force behind the growth of devices with screens 5.5 inches and larger, which are set to grow over 34% in 2017 across all operating systems. The average selling price of these devices is also expected to increase 9.0% as we await the arrival of ultra-premium devices such as the iPhone 8, Note 8, V30, Essential Phone, and the second-generation Pixel.”