Mobile World Congress Hints at the End of an Era

Smartphones Still Dominate, but Challengers Loom

This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) event brought large crowds and full exhibition halls back to Barcelona to discuss the latest mobile technologies. But it took place as the growth of its centerpiece technology, the smartphone, wanes. Although we’re still in the smartphone era, we may be entering a new phase of technology centered on a more diverse set of devices and cloud-based platforms.

We’re probably past peak smartphone sales.

MWC took place following a year of disappointing smartphone sales.

  • In 2022, manufacturers shipped 1.21 billion smartphones, the lowest total since 2013, according to IDC.
  • IDC projections for 2023 are for an even lower 1.19 billion shipments, although numbers are expected to rebound later in the decade to reach 1.37 billion in 2027. That would basically put shipments on par with 2021 levels, but still well below the peak volume of 1.47 billion in 2016. 
  • Worldwide smartphone user growth has also slowed to the low single digits, according to our numbers.

To see the full forecast, click here.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. We’re probably past peak smartphone sales.
  2. Smartphone features abound, but it won’t be enough to help sales.
  1. Connectivity beyond smartphones will drive investments and partnerships.
  2. New power players emerge.
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

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Yoram Wurmser