Worldwide market for used smartphones forecast to grow to 222.6 million units in 2020, according to IDC


Nov 22, 2016

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. November 21, 2016 – The market for used and refurbished smartphones has witnessed rapid growth over the past several years, thanks to a wide variety of trade-in and buyback programs across multiple channels and platforms. In the United States, most major carriers, retailers, and many online retailers (e-tailers) have implemented some type of trade-in strategy or platform to purchase used devices at a deep discount. These types of programs have also appeared in Western Europe and Asia over the past three to five years. A new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that the market for used smartphones will grow from 81.3 million devices in 2015 to 222.6 million units in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.3%.

"The demand for refurbished smartphones is already becoming constrained in countries such as the United States. Mobile operators are the most constrained given the need for replacement devices for customers who have purchased device insurance plans. In addition, used handsets provide an additional option for customers with subprime credit making them ineligible for equipment installment plans. With the average selling price for a used device expected to be $136 in 2020, the total market value for used devices in 2020 will be an estimated $30 billion," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager for IDC's Mobile Phone s program.

Worldwide Market for Used Smartphones (shipments in millions of units)

Region 2015 Shipments 2015 Market Share 2020 Shipments 2020 Market Share 2015-2020 CAGR
North America 15.2 18.7% 55.2 24.8% 29.4%
Rest of World 66.1 81.3% 167.4 75.2% 20.4%
Total 81.3 100% 222.6 100% 22.3%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Market for Used Smartphones October 2016

Table Note: Data is subject to change.

"The used smartphone market will impact OEMs, mobile operators, and component suppliers, thus IDC has committed new resources to help customers understand and plan for this new and potentially disruptive force. Although there is a potential downside to mobile ecosystem suppliers, IDC believes that the used smartphone market also presents new opportunities to grow revenue and increase market share," said Will Stofega, program director, Mobile P hones.

According to IDC's taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a "hand me down" or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2016–2020 (Doc #US41737016), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2020. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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