Commentary

Smartphone Sales Set For Comeback In 2017

The New Year is expected to be a better one for smartphone makers.

After dropping to a three-year low, in 2016, smartphone sales are finally expected to bounce back, according to a fresh forecast from Accenture.

The research firm credits better security, new functions, improved performance and device refresh schedules for the better outlook.  

“Improved features and falling prices are key reasons consumers around the world are signaling a desire to buy new smartphones,” David Sovie, global managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High-Tech business, notes in the new report.

“Growing acceptance of services powered by artificial intelligence, such as voice assistants, is also fueling this market upswing,” Sovie added. “2017 will be the year when artificial intelligence goes mainstream in consumer devices.”

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That said, the forecast -- based on a survey of some 26,000 consumers across 26 countries -- suggests that consumer demand for specific types of connected devices, such as smartwatches and fitness monitors, will remain sluggish in 2017 due to high prices and persistent concerns about the security and privacy of their personal data.

The survey also shows that consumers are increasingly comfortable with artificial intelligence capabilities, and particularly in the area of digital voice assistants.

Overall, more than half (54%) of consumers surveyed said they plan to buy a smartphone in the next year -- up from 48% in last year’s survey.

Not so surprisingly, Chinese consumers are the main drivers of this upturn, with three-quarters (74%) of respondents in China saying they intend to purchase a smartphone in the coming 12 months. That’s up from less than two-thirds (61%) in last year’s survey.

The number of respondents in the United States who said they plan to buy a smartphone in the coming 12 months also increased by double digits over last year -- up from 38% to 52%, year-over-year.

Among all consumers surveyed, the leading driver of purchase intent is the ability to access the newest and most innovative features and functions -- cited by 51% of respondents in this year’s survey.

Another reason consumers are opting to buy new smartphones is inadequate performance of their existing devices -- cited by 45% of customers, this year.

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