Smartphone Shipments leveling out: everyone already has one

A smartphone unit shipments report released today suggests that basically everyone in the world who wants a smartphone already has one. This week Mary Meeker from VIA Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have released her annual Internet Trends report for 2016, showing – in the process – how growth has slowed in smartphone unit shipments. This does not mean end sales, mind you, just shipments from manufacturing plants to distributors. This is not sales – but it's certainly indicative of some interestingly dire trends.

This group has been monitoring shipments of smartphones running iOS (that's iPhone only) and smartphones running Android for the past 7 years. Longer for iOS – back to 2007 when the iPhone was launched.

In that time, Apple's shipments have gone up every single year – by monstrous amounts over the first several years they'd been out on the market.

Android devices of all sorts have also had worldwide shipments growing by monster amounts since 2009. What seemed like a correlation between Android phone sales going up while iPhone sales grew more steadily (around 2013), now seems insignificant.

Android overtook iOS in a year, starting at 4% of the world's phone shipments in 2009, moving up past Apple by 2010, then more than doubling Apple by 2011. Since then, the difference between Android device shipments and iOS device shipments has been enormous.

What's important here for Apple is their estimated year-over-year growth in 2016 being negative – for the first time ever.

Android device shipments, meanwhile, aren't going to be negative year-over-year this year, but they've gone below double-digits for year-over-year growth.

It would seem that the market has found the point at which everyone who was going to buy a smartphone already has one. Everyone that will be buying a smartphone in the near future probably already has one, or has had one in the recent past.

Another way to look at this chart also comes from the same Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers report VIA MacRumors, this time showing some of the same information, this time including year-over-year growth as it bolted upward in 2010, then began to decline sharply the very next year.

An important thing to remember here is that these charts do not indicate that smartphones are no longer being purchased. They show how the market has stopped growing larger. Over the past 7 or so years, more and more of the world's population bought in to this device trend – now there's nowhere else to go.

A final chart shows how smartphone users have increased over the past 10 years – we've got one massive amount of users out there now.

The full report can be found on KPCB in PDF format.