IDC: China slowdown cuts smartphone forecast, cheaper iPhone 6C wouldn’t help iOS erode Android lead

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 17: Apple store employees welcome the customers to buy iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at an Apple store on October 17, 2014 in Beijing, China. Apple Inc began delivering its smartphone iPhone6 and iPhone6 Plus to the Chinese mainland on Friday. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

IDC released an updated forecast today lowering its expectations for worldwide smartphone shipments this year with a continuing slowdown in growth in China cited as the biggest contributor to the lower than expected shipments. It also shared some insight into expected growth for Apple in the years to come, predicting Android’s current 81% share of the market by operating system will likely hold strong through 2019 and that a cheaper iPhone 6C model wouldn’t do much to help.

When it comes to Apple, IDC notes that it expects Android to maintain its approximately 80% share of the market by operating system through 2019. It also argues that a lower cost iPhone “6C”, something that has been rumored to possibly arrive alongside next generation iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models, would do little to help Apple take on Android’s lead that will mostly experience growth from the sub $200 category. With that in mind, IDC predicts Apple will grow from 192.7 million units in 2014 to 223.7 million units this year and 269.6 million units by 2019. Compare that to Android up from 1.06 billion in 2014 to an expected 1.16 billion this year and 1.54 billion in 2019. 

As for China, IDC notes that the smartphone market grew 1.2% year over year in 2015. That’s a major bump down from the 19.7% growth for the country last year when it accounted for around 32.3% of all smartphone shipments. That slowdown in growth accounts for IDC’s updated forecast of 10.4% growth in 2015 with a total 1.44 billion units. While China continues to make up the largest market by volume in its forecast, IDC predicts the country’s share of worldwide shipments will drop from 32.3% last year to 23.1% by 2019.

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 with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “India has captured a lot of the attention that China previously received and it’s now the market with the most potential upside. The interesting thing to watch will be the possibility of manufacturing moving from China and Vietnam over to India. We’ve begun to see this move as a means to cut costs and capitalize on financial benefits associated with localized India manufacturing. It is the local vendors like Micromax, Lava, and Intex that will feel the most pressure from international competition within its market.”

The insight into smartphone growth in China comes just as Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a rare mid-quarter update in the press yesterday (despite possibly violating SEC rules) reassuring investors that Apple has seen strong growth in China in July and August. Cook noted, “Growth in iPhone activations has actually accelerated over the past few weeks, and we have had the best performance of the year for the App Store in China during the last 2 weeks.”

Cook added, “Obviously I can’t predict the future, but our performance so far this quarter is reassuring… growth of the middle class over the next several years will be huge.”

You can check out IDC’s full report here.

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  1. rogifan - 7 years ago

    Is this the same IDC that predicted Windows Phone would overtake iOS to be the #2 mobile OS? I think I’ll trust what Tim Cook says over some silly analytics firm that pulls numbers out of its rear end.

    • chrisl84 - 7 years ago

      Still waiting for you to address the inside information I quoted to you…..crickets crickets crickets.

      • Maurice Brandon - 7 years ago

        What information was that

      • Maurice Brandon - 7 years ago

        What information

      • chrisl84 - 7 years ago

        It was left for Rogifan on another story so read on and you will find it.

  2. gkbrown - 7 years ago

    Please. Does IDC *ever* have anything positive to say about Apple?

  3. Leif Paul Ashley - 7 years ago

    I forecast the free phones will be Android, and the ones that make profit for a company will be iPhone.

    Check it out, I’m an analyst.

  4. As a Chinese, I would tell you this:
    When Chinese already have a working smartphone, we would prefer not buying at all, instead of buying second class smartphone

    So, I have no idea why would people think the sub $200 category would still exist:
    We would prefer saving the cash, when the economy is in trouble

    It’s not like the lower class would spend ⅓ of their pay check, instead of saving to prepare when their boss loss all the company fund on the stock market.

  5. jrv6 - 7 years ago

    The only useful market for a cheaper iPhone is the business market . Quality would still have to be great. There is a huge amount of headroom for iOS / OSX ecosystem integration in the workplace. This is where share acquisition is crucial now. Integration in the “cloud” will come later

  6. Of course one phone can’t stand against thousands of models of cheap Android phones. Duh.

    • PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

      Very true. I’ll never understand why people/websites compare the iPhone to a competitors [sic] phone OS. One’s the whole package, the other is only the OS


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.