Despite vigorous consumer demand for wireless broadband connectivity, research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) reported this week that global growth in consumer demand for smartphones has slowed nearly to a halt over the past year. Issuing its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report on Tuesday, IDC reported that global smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1.45 billion units this year. That figure represents a year-on-year growth rate of 0.6% in 2016 and a drastic reduction from the growth rate of 10.4% reported last year. IDC attributes the reduction, in part, to an estimated 11% decrease in shipments of the Apple iPhone—the first full year of declining shipments for the iPhone since the device made its debut in 2007. Other factors cited by IDC include (1) slowing growth in mature wireless markets that include the U.S., Canada, Western Europe and Japan and (2) the trend toward U.S. carriers requiring their customers to purchase their smartphones at full retail price, which, according to IDC, has resulted in U.S. wireless subscribers becoming “much more aware of what the phone is worth and [not] switching so fast.”

Notwithstanding the trend toward stagnant growth in mature markets, IDC asserts that shipments of fourth-generation (4G) smartphones are growing at double digit year-on-year rates in emerging Asian, Latin American, Eastern European and African markets that have begun to implement 4G network technology and where low-cost smartphones are becoming more widely available. Between 2015 and 2016, IDC reports that shipments of 4G-enabled smartphones to such markets as a percentage of all wireless device shipments jumped from 61% to 77%. A spokesman for IDC further noted that, “as we approach the holiday quarter, smartphone marketing has picked up significantly across all regions as expected.”