Global smartphone sales may have peaked. After reaching nearly 1.5 billion units in 2016, global smartphone sales have since declined, contributing negatively to world trade in 2019 and suggesting that the global market may now be saturated. This paper develops a simple model to forecast smartphone sales, which shows that sales are likely to decline further. As tech companies shift to embedded services (cloud computing, content subscriptions, and financial services), the impact on global trade may also be shifting in favor of services exports mostly from advanced economies.
Benjamin Carton, Mr. Joannes Mongardini, and Yiqun Li
The enormous global demand for smartphones in recent years has created a new global tech cycle. In 2016 alone, global smartphone sales reached close to 1.5 billion, one for every fifth person on earth. In turn, this has engendered complex and evolving supply chains across Asia. We show that the new tech cycle cannot be captured by standard seasonality, but depends on smartphone product release dates. Decomposing cycle from trend, we also show that the sale of smartphones may have peaked in late 2015. Asia, however, continues to gain in importance as the global tech manufacturer.