iPhone shipments may actually slip from about 232 million in 2015 to 227 million this year, marking the first such decline in Apple history, according to a research forecast published on Wednesday.
This contrasts with a predicted smartphone industry growth of 3.1 percent to over 1.48 billion, IDC said. The world's leading smartphone platform — Android — is expected to advance 6.2 percent to 1.24 billion, though unlike Apple's iOS, Android is represented by numerous separate smartphone vendors including Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Xiaomi, and Huawei.
Apple is experiencing a "pivotal moment," IDC commented, arguing that the company should be able to resume growth in 2017, helped by things like the cheaper iPhone SE, and a trade-in program that encourages people to spend on upgrades they might otherwise hold off on. The company is also said to be making "inroads in China with development in tier 1 cities," and delving deeper into burgeoning markets like India and the Middle East.
iPhone shipments are in fact anticipated to grow to over 267 million by 2020. Along the way these may skew more heavily towards larger Plus models, moving from a 26 percent share this year to 32 percent, according to IDC.
Although there are still some three quarters left in 2016, making IDC's estimates tenuous, Apple reported its first year-over-year decline for the iPhone in the March quarter. Some analysts have been pessimistic about the company's ability to resume growth until the release of new iPhones in the fall.