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Smartphone sales to new users 'have peaked'

It's an upgrade business from here on

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The smartphone market will establish its maturity this year: 2012 will be the last time the shipment of handsets to new users grows.

According to figures posted by market watcher NPD DisplaySearch, smartphone shipments have been dominated by upgrade sales - handsets bought by people who already own a smartphone - but until now shipments of devices to buyers new to the category have risen year on year.

No longer. Such shipments will fall in 2013, hold broadly steady for the following two years, and then drop to around only seven per cent of smartphone shipments worldwide.

In 2016, then, some 1100m smartphones will be shipped by manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, but only 76m or so will go to folk who've never owned a smartphone before, DisplaySearch's forecast data show. The rest will be replacement units.

DisplaySearch originally forecast new smartphone sales would result in 220-230m shipments in 2012. Now it believes only 177m new smartphones will be sold. Some 390m upgrade units will take the year's shipments total to 567m, the company reckons. ®

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