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Fastest growing market for cellphones? You could never guess.

January 15, 2020 by Janine Young

Analyst firm Counterpoint's recently presented Refurbished Smartphone tracker for 2017 shows that the global market for refurbished smartphones grew 13% during 2017, reaching almost 140 million units. At the same time, the global new smartphone market grew a meagre 3%. That means refurbished smartphones are now close to 10% of the total global smartphone market.

Commenting on the findings, 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."

According to Counterpoint, the low growth of the global new smartphone market can be attributed, at least partially, 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 cannibalized by refurbished high-end phones, mostly Apple iPhones and, to a lesser extent, Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

Still, the refurbished market has a huge potential for continued growth since only 25 % of all pre-owned phones are sold back into the market, and only a part of these are refurbished.

"This is a burgeoning market allowing various stakeholders to maximize the life-time value of a mobile device. For many in the industry, the profit margin on a used device exceeds that of a new device. It is also positive from the perspective of maximizing the use of valuable resources.", Mr. Richardson added.