Refurbished Smartphone Sales Grew by 13 Percent Globally in 2017

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Counterpoint Research on Wednesday announced its latest report from its Refurbished Smartphone Tracker for 2017. According to the tracker, the global market for refurbished smartphones grew by 13 percent Year-on-Year (YoY) in 2017, with a total volume of 140 million units. The research firm notes that, in comparison, the global market for new smartphones grew by only 3 percent YoY in the same time period.

As per the report, about 25 percent of all pre-owned smartphones are sold back into the market. Further, only some of these units are refurbished. Apple and Samsung are the major players in the global refurbished market, with a combined share of close to 75 percent. Apart from that, these two OEMs control over 80 percent of the entire revenue in the market.

Commenting on this important trend, Research Director, Tom Kang, said, “With 13 percent growth, refurbished smartphones are now close to 10 percent of the total global smartphone market. The low growth of the new smartphone market in 2017 can be partially attributed to the growth of the refurb market. The slowdown in innovation has made two-year-old flagship smartphones comparable in design and features with the most recent mid-range phones. Therefore, the mid low-end market for new smartphones is being cannibalised by refurbished high-end phones, mostly Apple iPhones and, to a lesser extent, Samsung Galaxy smartphones.”

Further, Research Director, Peter Richardson, noted, “It’s a surprise to many that the fastest growing smartphone market in 2017 was not India or any other emerging market, but the refurb market. With refurb smartphones in play we think the market for new devices will slow further in 2018.”

Mr. Richardson, added, “Regions seeing the highest volume include the US and Europe. While the fastest growing markets for refurbs include Africa, SE Asia and India. All have been seeing initiatives from the major operators (e.g. Verizon, Counterpoint Research Refurbished Smartphone Tracker 2017 Shows Stellar Growth in 2017 etc.), OEMs (e.g. Apple) and major distributors (e.g. Brightstar) who are adding full life-cycle services. The industry uses data analysis to predict future resale values of devices, which means consumers can be given a guaranteed buy-back value at various points during their ownership. This helps consumers to manage the high cost of the latest flagship smartphones – or at least to obtain a useful contribution to partially offset the cost of their next phone.

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