Last year saw global smartphone sales decline for the first time since analysts started tracking such things. In Gartner’s case, that comprises a full 11 years, as figures dropped 2% for 2019. Following on last week’s global device forecast, the firm is drilling down on smartphone figures with some slightly rosier results. According to the new numbers from the firm, global smartphone rates are expected to reverse course slightly for 2020, with a predicted 3% bump in worldwide sales. It’s a minor success, but after a few years of stagnation and then decline, a small victory is a victory no less. I won’t dig too far into why numbers have been falling lately (I’d direct you here instead), but 2020 is expected to be the first year the move to 5G will finally see some real, tangible payoff for manufacturers. Apple, of course, is expected to get into the game at the end of the year, with the next iPhone, while a new batch of Qualcomm chips are helping to make cheaper 5G devices a reality. 5G phone sales are expected to have their largest impact in China and the broader Asia/Pacific regions. Those areas are expected to increase at 5.1% and 5.7% in overall sales, year over year, respectively. The Middle East and North Africa region, meanwhile, should get the biggest bump, at 5.9% for the year. Ultimately, 5G may only be a temporary solution to declining smartphone sales. Without a radical shift in form factor or functionality, it’s hard to imagine smartphone sales seeing a substantial course correction in the coming years.
Welcome back to ThisWeek in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all. The app industry is as hot as ever with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis. This week, there was a ton of app news. We’re digging into the latest with Apple’s antitrust issues, Tencent’s plan to leverage WeChat to fend off the TikTok threat, AppsFlyer’s massive new round, the booming subscription economy, Disney’s mobile game studio sale, Pokémon GO’s boost to tourism, Match Group’s latest investment and much more. And did you see the app that lets you use your phone from within a paper envelope? Or the new AR social network? It’s Weird App Week, apparently. Headlines