The story has always been the same, to a greater or lesser extent, since 2007: Apple takes the stage to present a new iPhone and, weeks later, hordes go to the company's stores (physical or online) around the world to have the taste of having first hand the new creations of the great Ma. During the next days or weeks, the new iPhones (almost always) set sales records and become resounding successes that make Cupertino's already stewed coffers fatten at an ever-increasing rate.
According to this analysis of Wall Street Journal, however, the days of this increasingly hungry cycle may be numbered not only for Apple, but for smartphone manufacturers as a whole. The reason? They are, shall we say, doing their job too well.
Journalists from WSJ point to some factors for a possible slowdown in smartphone sales in the coming years. The first to general satisfaction of consumers with their current devices, which, on average, is taller than ever and causes users to stay longer with a device, that is to say, before you switched smartphones every two years and now you are so happy with yours You only have to change it after the third birthday. This is the general scenario.
Another even more compelling reason for this “cycle break” is the growth of the used and / or refurbished smartphone market. This practice is already very present in emerging countries, such as ours, but which are only gaining traction in stronger markets, such as that of the United States themselves. According to data cited by the report, about 10% of smartphones sold in the world today are used and / or reconditioned, making this segment the fastest growing in the industry, with some slack.
Add to all this the imminent disappearance of operators' two-year contracts (extremely common in the USA until a few years ago), increasingly replaced by the sale of unlocked smartphones or within the manufacturer's own plans, and we have a scenario in which the average update cycle of the devices rises from 23 months in 2013 to 31 months in 2018, reaching 33 months next year. With that, the launches of Apple, Samsung and company may suffer a little shake from 2019, says the report.
Manufacturers, of course, have nothing to worry about, in this highly competitive industry, anything that does not involve breaking records or queuing at doors quickly rated as "failure", and no one wants to report lower sales than the previous year.
Still, the issue can be looked at from other perspectives: retaining smartphones for longer in consumers' hands means greater sales of accessories, extended warranty plans and repair or upgrade services. Selling used smartphones does not make profits directly to companies, but it means a wave of new users entering their respective ecosystems and spending money on apps, music, movies and other types of content.
Therefore, even though the sea may not be particularly favorable for bombshell and record-breaking launches, companies will certainly have alternative ways to continue presenting impressive financial results and providing new creations that increase this cycle even more.
Or else all of the above prospects are wrong and Apple, Samsung and the company will have more successful launches than ever in the years to come. Who knows? We'll have to wait and see.