Is smartphone usage beginning to decline? According to Wired.com there are many reasons why the market has settled, but the biggest is this: everyone who wants a smartphone has one, and the phones they’re buying are so good that they don’t need to upgrade as often. As a nation and a world, we are now well aware of the harmful effects of too much screen time. This is also helping to slow down and even decline the usage of smartphones.
Reaching Saturation Point
Cnet explains that In North America, 65 percent of consumers own a smartphone. In Europe, that number jumps to 74 percent. This translates to markets with fewer and fewer first-time buyers. Stuff.com spells out that the major reason for slowing growth in smartphone sales is that the market grew quicker than anybody had expected. The transition from basic phones into smartphones has been pretty dynamic over the last three or four years. Combine that with the fact that people buying smartphones for the first time are trailing off, there is now saturation in terms of people that can afford to buy phones.
Less Reason to Upgrade
Many smartphone users don’t see a benefit in upgrading their iPhone or Samsung Galaxy on a yearly basis because vendors are losing the ability to “show value” in their yearly product updates. Fortune.com writes that the era of subsidized phones is long gone and consumers who want to upgrade their device now have to pay full price, $650 and up for a current model iPhone for example. And that has them holding onto phones longer than ever. AT&T said only 3.9% of its regular monthly customers upgraded a phone, the lowest upgrade rate the company has ever experienced and down from 5% in the same period just last year.
Awareness of Harmful Effects
Have you ever walked down a city sidewalk and realized that every single person you pass is immersed in their smartphone? Just when you thought that screen zombies were a lost cause, there is hope. The use of smartphones may have peaked as research suggests that young people have started putting them down. Finally! The U.K. Times writes that over the past year, those aged 16-24 spent an average of 3.8 hours a day on their devices, down from 3.9 hours the year before. Though the decline is small, more than a third of young people said they thought they used their phones too much and wanted to cut down.
With smartphones having been a part of a culture for almost a decade now, consumers are becoming more and more aware of the harmful effects of too much screen time. Fifty percent of teens report feeling addicted to their cellphones and a new study in the journal Child Development shows nighttime usage of a cellphone can increase anxiety and depression in teenagers and reduce self-esteem. Now that parents have the data and the knowledge, more and more are beginning to implement “electronic curfews.”
Between market saturation, less incentive to upgrade, and parents putting more restrictions on their kid’s screen time, a decline in smartphone usage may finally be on the horizon.