Cheap smartphones set to flourish as high-end devices stagnate [Report]

Person with smartphone

Person with smartphone

Apple may be selling the iPhone 5S in record numbers, but within the next five years it could be smartphones at the bottom end of the market that are dominating headlines.

According to a new report from Juniper Research, around 200-million so-called “ultra low-cost” smartphones — ones which it defines as retailing for under US$74 — will sell in 2018, compared with just 10-million this year.

That low-end growth, the company says, means that the top end of the market will “diminish proportionally.”

If Juniper’s predictions hold true, then Firefox will be among the companies most pleased to have a robust emerging markets strategy. With it Firefox OS, the open-source organisation reckons it can disrupt the smartphone OS space in the same way it did with desktop browsing, using its web-based Firefox OS. Its best chance of doing that, it seems, is to target emerging market countries and partner with vendors who have presences in them.

Microsoft meanwhile will be hoping that it can leverage the trust earned by Nokia in countries like India to leverage its Windows Phone OS.

While the high-end range of the market is set to stagnate, says Juniper, we will start to see more innovative approaches to it. The research house points to companies like China’s Xiaomi, which offers high-end hardware and cheap prices by allowing people to pay for additional services.

To some degree, we’re already seeing this kind of thinking with Samsung’s premium “accidental damage while handling” warranty in certain African markets.

It also reckons that unique concepts like the ethically sourced Fairphone and the modular Phonebloks concept could help define the market in years to come.



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