FORTUNE -- The heyday of smartphone sales is over, according to an IDC report issued this week.
The U.S.-based market research firm expects growth in worldwide smartphone shipments, which approached 40% last year, to slow to less than 20% in 2014 and then within a few years to shrink to single digits: 8.3% in 2017 and 6.2% in 2018.
For a company like Apple (AAPL), which depends on smartphone sales for more than half of its revenue and whose share of shipments has fallen below 15%, that's bad news, right?
Although IDC predicts that smartphone growth over the next four years will mostly be in price-conscious developing markets, and that sales growth in Apple's strongholds -- the U.S. and Europe -- has already slowed to single digits, there is a silver lining for Apple.
It's represented by the red line in the attached IDC graphic.
Apple's competitors, IDC reports, are moving down the price curve to reach all that untapped demand in emerging markets. From IDC's press release:
"The result is rapidly declining price points creating challenging environments in which to turn a profit. Worldwide smartphone average selling price (ASP) was $335 in 2013, and is expected to drop to $260 by 2018... We've already seen numerous smartphone announcements targeting [the under $150] priceband this year, with some as low as $25."
"Not all vendors," it adds, "will want to get into this space."
That would probably be Apple. Last year, according to Raymond James' Tavis McCourt, it took home 87.4% of mobile phone profits. Why mess with that?
Below: IDC's spreadsheets.
Many combatants fought the smartphone wars. Most are bleeding money.
FORTUNE -- Two sets of stats came out this week that should give the smartphone also-rans pause.IDC estimates that 95.7% of fourth quarter smartphone shipments originated either with Samsung (78.1%) or Apple (17.6%). Raymond James' Tavis McCourt estimates that in the broader market for mobile phones of all varieties -- smart and dumb -- Apple captured 87.4% of the industry's profits and Samsung 32.2%.
So MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 13, 2014 7:17 AM ET
IDC, CIRP and Canalys all issued new smartphone market reports this week.
FORTUNE -- A few hours after Apple (AAPL) released its quarterly results Monday -- giving market researchers the only hard sales numbers they are likely to get from any smartphone manufacturer this quarter -- IDC released the chart at right, dutifully updated with the new iPhones sales number (51 million).
"Apple posted record shipment volume during 4Q13," according to IDC's press release, "driven primarily by MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 30, 2014 3:33 PM ET
U.S. sales of Apple's Mac grew 28.5% last quarter, says Gartner. IDC says they fell 5.7%.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) was the PC maker that zigged when the market zagged, according to a Gartner report on 2013 sales issued Thursday. [IDC begs to differ. See below.]
Overall, the news was grim. The industry as a whole suffered its seventh consecutive quarter of declining shipments -- down 6.9% for the quarter and 10% for MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 9, 2014 9:21 PM ET
Apple's iPad now trails Android in both units shipped AND revenues, says Morgan Stanley.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) investors have long taken comfort in the fact that even if its share of tablet shipments fell behind Android's in a particular quarter, the company still took home the lion's share of tablet revenues.
That's no longer true, says Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty.
Working from the tracking numbers IDC released two weeks ago -- which MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 15, 2013 8:27 AM ET
The story was in the caveats, but most of the tech press missed them.
FORTUNE -- The headline on IDC's press release Tuesday was guaranteed to catch the attention of anyone in the media looking for signs of Apple's (AAPL) impending doom.
Android Pushes Past 80% Market Share While Windows Phone Shipments Leap 156.0% Year Over Year in the Third Quarter
To IDC's credit, it couched most of its numbers in the proper context. It pointed MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 13, 2013 8:36 AM ET
Both Gartner and IDC show summer Mac sales down as tablets replace PCs in schools.
FORTUNE -- An Apple (AAPL) summer tradition -- strong back-to-school sales of the Mac -- finally got broken by the same disruption that has been draining growth out of the entire PC industry: The booming tablet market that Apple created when it launched the iPad in 2010.
Gartner and IDC released their third quarter PC shipment reports MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 10, 2013 7:33 AM ET
But the iPhone lost ground this summer in China, Germany, Mexico and Spain.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) share of the U.S. smartphone market, grew to 43.4% from 35.6% between May and July according to a Kantar World Panel survey released Monday, a gain of 7.8 percentage points that came almost entirely out of the hide of Google's (GOOG) Android (down 7.6 points).
That may come as a surprise, given that Apple hasn't released MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 4, 2013 7:53 AM ET
New reports from IDC and comScore pull in opposite directions.
FORTUNE -- Pity the poor headline writer trying to make sense of Wednesday's smartphone market share reports.
On the one hand, you have IDC reporting that Apple (AAPL) "ceded" market share last quarter as Google's (GOOG) Android "surges," generating this from the Wall Street Journal:
Android Obliterates Smartphone Market
On the other you have comScore reported numbers showing that -- for the first time MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 8, 2013 6:20 AM ET
The reliability of its market research has been called into question twice in the past week.
FORTUNE -- It may be no accident that Samsung and Strategy Analytics both chose to locate their Korean headquarters in Seoul's prestigious Gangnam Building.
The Boston-based research and consulting firm does not advertise its roster of clients, except to say that they include "13 of the 15 top handset vendors."
But based on the number of reports MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 2, 2013 9:53 AM ET
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