"Smartphone sales are starting to decline at an accelerating rate," a market analyst has declared. In a pessimistic note, Jeff Johnston of Arthur Wood Research blames feature ennui.
When sector design leader Apple devoted a significant portion of a flagship device launch event to an animated poo emoji, one detects an industry running out of good ideas.
Johnston poured water on the idea that retail orders for Samsung's Galaxy S9 will be 10 to 15 per cent higher than last year – he estimated them falling some 50 per cent on 2017's Galaxy S8.
Last year may have been an exceptional one, as Samsung introduced its curved glass "Infinity Display" in the mainstream flagship for the first time, creating renewed interest in the product line.
Johnston said weak Samsung demand was bad news for rivals such as Apple as well as suppliers like Broadcom, Qualcomm and others.
"Features are falling on deaf ears," he noted.
An issue not mentioned in the research note is the rising cost of features people don't want. The BoM (Bill of Materials) cost of a 64GB S8 was estimated to be $307.50, $43.50 higher than its closest predecessor. Manufacturers are spending more and more for less and less gain.
The device industry – and the component industries that supply it – desperately need a breakthrough, like foldable displays, or week-long battery life, to renew demand in what has become a commodity business.
Otherwise, at this rate, phones will break through the £2,000 price barrier and only the most devoted fan of cartoon excrement will want one. ®