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Mobile Phones - US - June 2017

"From 2013-16, over 200 million phones sold in the US annually, and Mintel estimates that sales will stand at a record of 204 million units in 2017. Phone manufacturers have successfully and consistently driven upgrades via superior cameras, 4G (fourth-generation wireless network) chips, faster CPUs (central processing units), improved graphics, increased storage space, and larger screens. However, given that the majority of adults (75%, not shown) own a phone that is less than two years old, substantial advances in technology need to continue just to maintain sales."

- Billy Hulkower, Senior Technology Analyst

This report will cover the following areas:

  • Massive historic sales difficult to surpass
  • Duopoly dominates
  • Durable phones may damage sales

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Massive historic sales difficult to surpass
            • Figure 1: Total US unit sales and fan chart forecast of mobile phones, 2012-22
          • Duopoly dominates
            • Figure 2: Brand owned, January 2017
          • Durable phones may damage sales
              • Figure 3: Purchase of new phone because prior phone broke, by age, January 2017
            • The opportunities
              • Storage, camera, screen size to drive upgrades
                • Figure 4: Satisfaction with current phone, January 2017
              • Feature phone owners want directions, email, photos
                • Figure 5: Motivations to switch from feature phone to smartphone, January 2017
              • Teens and tweens to carry growth
                • Figure 6: Cell phone ownership among teens, April 2015-November 2016
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • Over 200 million units sold annually between 2013-17
                  • Conversion to smartphone still in progress
                    • Phones for kids add up
                      • Market hinged on postpaid plans
                      • Market Size and Forecast

                        • A billion units sold between 2013-17
                          • Hardware remains worthy of upgrades
                            • Impact of 5G
                              • Teens/tweens and feature phone conversion
                                • Figure 7: Total US unit sales and fan chart forecast of mobile phones, 2012-22
                                • Figure 8: Total US unit sales and forecast of mobile phones, 2012-22
                            • Market Breakdown

                              • Feature phone sales crater
                                • Figure 9: Smartphone unit sales vs feature phone unit sales, 2015 vs 2017
                              • Directions, email, photos, most desired by feature phone owners
                                • Figure 10: Motivations to switch from feature phone to smartphone, January 2017
                            • Market Perspective

                              • Carrier postpaid plans prop up market
                                  • Figure 11: Up-front purchase of current smartphone, by household income, January 2017
                                • Postpaid subs holding steady market share
                                  • Figure 12: Subscriptions, prepaid vs postpaid, 2015 vs 2016
                                • Unbreakable phones
                                  • Figure 13: Purchase of new phone because prior phone broke, by age, January 2017
                              • Market Factors

                                • Conversion to smartphones still in progress
                                    • Figure 14: Feature phone ownership, by age, January 2017
                                  • Teen ownership rising
                                    • Figure 15: Cell phone ownership among adults and teens, April 2014-November 2016
                                    • Figure 16: Cell phone ownership among teens, by gender and age, April 2015-November 2016
                                  • Potential sales among tweens and kids
                                    • Figure 17: Population, by age, 2012-22
                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                  • Two dominant brands
                                    • Sales not enticing
                                      • Numerous competitors for leftovers
                                      • What’s Working?

                                        • Marketing winning sales
                                          • Figure 18: Brand owned, January 2017
                                      • What’s Struggling?

                                        • Lack of marketing support damning
                                          • Figure 19: Brand owned, January 2017
                                        • Sale pricing not a common driver
                                          • Figure 20: Purchase of smartphone on sale or used, by household income, January 2017
                                          • Figure 21: Purchase of smartphone on sale or used, by single parents and unemployed, January 2017
                                      • What’s Next?

                                        • Rise of China Inc.
                                          • Kids phones
                                            • Insurance plans may create interest in private label
                                              • Rapid glass repair at automated Apple Horizon machines
                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                • Three in four own a phone less than two years old
                                                  • iPhone fan girls drive brand loyalty
                                                    • Low levels of interest in next smartphone
                                                      • Smartphone users ready for next level of activity
                                                      • Length of Phone Ownership

                                                        • Two years remains the norm
                                                          • Figure 22: Age of phone, January 2017
                                                        • Age chief determinant of recent upgrade
                                                          • Figure 23: Age of phone, by age of owner, January 2017
                                                        • Dads buy in
                                                          • Figure 24: Age of phone, by parental status, January 2017
                                                        • Recent purchase nearly universal among Hispanic Millennials
                                                          • Figure 25: Age of phone, by Hispanic origin and generation, January 2017
                                                      • Loyalty

                                                        • Stated loyalty limited
                                                          • In their own words:
                                                              • Figure 26: Brand loyalty, by age, January 2017
                                                            • Young women stuck on iPhone
                                                              • Figure 27: Brand loyalty, by gender and age, January 2017
                                                            • Limited distinctions outside of gender and age
                                                              • Figure 28: Brand loyalty, by race and Hispanic origin, January 2017
                                                          • Interest in Purchasing

                                                            • Less than a third ready for next smartphone
                                                              • In their own words:
                                                                  • Figure 29: Interest in acquiring a new smartphone, by age, January 2017
                                                                • Higher-income groups more content with current phone
                                                                  • Figure 30: Interest in acquiring a new smartphone, by household income, January 2017
                                                                • Some savings in cutting rural budgets
                                                                  • Figure 31: Interest in acquiring a new smartphone, by area, January 2017
                                                                • Hispanic Millennials deserve attention
                                                                  • Figure 32: Interest in acquiring a new smartphone, by race, Hispanic origin, and generation, January 2017
                                                              • Promoting New Activities

                                                                • Integrating with dashboard, television, and smart home
                                                                    • Figure 33: Current activities and interest in activity adoption, January 2017
                                                                  • Young men ready to adopt
                                                                    • Figure 34: Current activities and interest in activity adoption, by gender and age, January 2017
                                                                  • Urbanites atop interest
                                                                    • Figure 35: Current activities and interest in activity adoption, by location of residence, January 2017
                                                                • Reasons to Upgrade

                                                                  • Storage, camera, screen size continue to drive sales
                                                                    • In their own words:
                                                                        • Figure 36: Reasons to upgrade, January 2017
                                                                      • Usual suspects more interested in improving their phones
                                                                        • Figure 37: Reasons to upgrade, by age, January 2017
                                                                        • Figure 38: Reasons to upgrade, by location of residence, January 2017
                                                                        • Figure 39: Reasons to upgrade, by Hispanic origin and generation, January 2017
                                                                    • In Their Own Words – Qualitative Responses

                                                                      • Keeping abreast of tech: Mobile just part of the mix
                                                                        • Durability, battery remain areas for improvement
                                                                        • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                          • Data sources
                                                                            • Sales data
                                                                              • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                                  • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                        • Terms

                                                                                        Companies Covered

                                                                                        To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                        Mobile Phones - US - June 2017

                                                                                        US $3,995.00 (Excl.Tax)