Should We Expect Smartphone Sales To Slooooooooooooooooooooow Down?

Remember when almost every year we would think about getting the next PC to sit in the office or bedroom?  Almost every year our PC was deemed obsolete.  It just couldn’t run the latest and greatest software!

You Do!  Yeah, me too.

Then around about Windows XP’s launch we suddenly noticed that for the better part all our software worked just as well and we didn’t see the point in buying the next PC unless the current PC gave up.

JUMP forward to today.  Remember when without fail every second year we would be in line to get the next great Smartphone.  Suddenly we don’t really need the latest and greatest because for the better part every app that we desire.

Just like PC’s reached the point where performance really is not impacted.  I still have an old iPhone 4 that I use for some tasks yet that same iPhone has been deprecated by Apple (or will be on Wednesday 7th September) to antique and unsupported completely.  Sure it’s slow, in fact sometimes

 I can tap the screen and then sit and wait for a few seconds before it responds but it still does some tasks perfectly.

Many people are still happy with their 3+ year old smart phones.  They do what they need it to do and until it breaks they aren’t interested in investing more to replace it.

Yes, the days of people racing to get the latest and greatest is over.  The two year cycle is very likely dead forever for the majority of the population.  Why?

Well if we had the original 2 year contract cycle that we were all used to having I’m sure that many would have taken advantage of the upgrade cycle to get the latest and greatest but that has now been resigned to the side of the road of cellular history and is a distant speck in the review view mirror.

What we do have is where we tend to pay either in full or finance the phone and unless we have a special deal with the Phone Service Provider we are not that willing to spend that much money every year.  After all, we aren’t Leo Laporte, we can’t all afford to purchase a new phone every day to review it. Instead we are falling into the same replacement cycle that we have become accustomed to with PC’s.

I replacement my PC with a Mac back in 2012, it still runs the latest version of macOS without any slow down or issues, even though I regret purchasing a 27 inch iMac I won’t replace it until it can’t run macOS as well or something fails on it.  Similarly my iPad Pro will probably last three or four years or more, in fact I don’t intend replacing it until something serious happens or it just becomes too slow for me to use.

I use an iPhone 6S Plus,  while I don’t use the headphone jack the reason I won’t be upgrading is exactly the same reason.  There is no need for me to upgrade that device.  It’s doing what I need it to do and I always buy my phone up front and unlocked and this year I had to replace a 6 Plus in April that I didn’t intend replacing because T-Mobile claimed the phone was faulty when it turned out that the sudden loss of signal after an upgrade was a faulty phone.  I had forgotten to purchase the extended warranty and just traded in the phone at an Apple store.  It wasn’t until I got home I spotted the new phone had no service either and had to fight T-Mobile for a sim card to fix the problem.

In fact I don’t feel the need to purchase another iPhone until next year or maybe even the following year.  Yes I am most definitely treating my devices in the same way that we started to, and still do, treat our PC’s.

In fact yes I expect that sales of Smartphones will continue to decline as the market adjusts to sales being just hard core users that always need the latest and great and those getting their first Smart Phone with the ones that are replacing their device because it is damaged to the point that repair cost would be more than replacing.

This is exactly what has affected the sales of tablets,  they are lasting longer and to expect users to replace a product just because the latest version is launched is a failure of due diligence by any device manufacturer.   Manufacturers should plan on a longer life cycle than a product really has and give that estimate to their shareholders.

Expect, for example Apple who we seem to watch far more, to continue to have declines in product sales as their product’s lifespans increase.  For Mac’s, Intel’s processor’s just don’t offer mammoth increases in performance, their latest chip only gets the increase in performance for the better part in the 25% increase in the clock speed and the performance is only a gain if it is doing 4K video play back.  Only benefit is a tiny incremental improvement in laptop battery life (but again only if you are playing 4K video).

Apple’s ARM processor chip set now outperforms the OS and apart from any hardware additions that offer extra features not available to older devices there is not a major enough negative impact in performance of devices, certainly not the previous generation and I expect even those 3 years old are capable of running the main features of the latest and greatest version of iOS.

The same applies for all Smartphone makers though.