- U.S. smartphone usage will grow 3% to 232.8 million people this year, or 70% of the population, researcher eMarketer said in a forecast shared with Mobile Marketer. IPhone and Android usage will grow in line with the national trend this year, and will see little change in market share through 2021, the researcher said.
- The iPhone's U.S. usage will rise 3% to 105.2 million people this year as Apple reaches 45.2% of the domestic market. Apple's lineup of iPhones at different prices and its reputation for creativity and privacy helps to maintain loyalty, Shelleen Shum, forecasting director at eMarketer, said in the report.
- Google's Android mobile operating system, which overtook Apple in 2011, also will grow 3% this year, reaching 124.4 million smartphone users. Android’s share of U.S. smartphone users will increase to 53.8% in 2021 from 53.4% this year, eMarketer forecast. Lower-cost smartphones from Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi and Huawei don’t pose an immediate threat in the United States without support from local carriers, Shum said.
EMarketer's forecast for a 3% increase in smartphone usage reinforces other indications that the smartphone market is growing at a slower rate now that it has reached maturation. For marketers, the continued U.S. growth will support the shift toward mobile commerce and the consumption of content. In a separate forecast, eMarketer estimated that almost half (47.9%) of U.S. media ad spending will be on mobile platforms by 2022.
Apple’s biggest challenge in the past year has been in China, where sales plunged 27% to $13.17 billion during the final three months of 2018 from a year earlier. That decline dragged down worldwide iPhone sales by 15% to $51.98 billion. Not only has China’s economic growth slowed to multidecade lows, but local electronics makers are saturating the market with lower-cost smartphones. WeChat, the messaging app developed by Chinese tech giant Tencent, acts like a miniature mobile operating system on those Android-based phones, making their features more like Apple’s iOS.
Apple needs to maintain its user base as the iPhone maker seeks to sell more services, including subscriptions to a streaming TV service that analysts expect Apple will announce at a special event on March 25. Apple also is said to be working on an augmented reality (AR) headset, its first new wearable product since the Apple Watch came out in 2014, that will work with the iPhone and may be available as early as this year.