People Are Taking Longer To Upgrade Their Smartphones, And That Spells Trouble For The Mobile Industry
The upgrade cycle is the frequency with which people ditch older phones for newer ones.
All the various, interrelated pieces of the mobile ecosystem work very well together if consumers have the latest technology in their hands. But when the upgrade cycle starts to sputter, the main engines for growth begin to fall apart very quickly.
That's what's happening now. In the U.S., the smartphone upgrade cycle has steadily gotten longer over the years, and reached 22 months in 2012, according to Recon Analytics.
In a new report, BI Intelligence looks at the increasingly lengthy smartphone upgrade cycle in the U.S. and in other key markets. We discuss how less frequent smartphone upgrades will impact all the major players in the mobile industry, and predict how long the smartphone upgrade cycle will get.
Industry players want as short a cycle as possible, here's why.
- Smartphone manufacturers rely on upgrades to get their newly launched handsets into consumer hands.
Carriersrely on new phones that are compatible with their ultra-fast 4G wireless networks in order to encourage high rates of data consumption and boost data revenue.
- Tech companies like
Apple, Microsoft, and
- Apple is particularly vulnerable to the longer upgrade cycle, since their business model depends on smartphone sales, rather than advertising (Google is less concerned if its users are on older phones).
- App developers, in turn, design software around the newest operating systems and devices, to take full advantage of available technologies. Without shiny new phones loaded with features, consumers tend to fall behind the curve.
- Marketers create rich-media and video ads that won't even load on slow smartphones.
In full, the report, explains the reasons driving a longer upgrade cycle, including:
- Declining innovation in smartphone hardware
- Consolidation in mobile software and manufacturing, which cuts down on the number of key players and launches
- An increased focus among influential tech giants on software
- Changes in carrier strategies, especially a shift away from subsidies, led by
T-Mobileand emulated by other carriers
For full access to the report on Smartphone Upgrade Trends sign up for a free trial subscription today. Subscribers also gain full access to our 2013 Smartphone Market Forecast.