2018 global market for refurbished smartphone slows to 1%

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Refurbished Smartphones
Sample of a Refurbished Smartphones

Findings from Counterpoint indicate that there was a one percent year-over-year slowdown of the global refurbished smartphone market in 2018, reaching close to 140 million units.

The finding from Counterpoint’s Refurbished Smartphone Tracker, noted that the secondary industry slowed due to the 11% drop in new smartphone sales in key supply countries such as China and the United States.

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It also attributed it to the drop in new device sales, which led to a decline in devices flowing into the secondary market. The finding, however, noted that this drop was partially offset by improvements in the secondary market’s ecosystem of collection, grading, repairing, and online/offline selling.

 “The refurbished smartphone market cooled because of the slowdown of new device sales. The US and China markets saw lower upgrade cycles in 2018, which affected the flow of devices into the secondary market. In addition, China and US trade tensions held up devices in customs much longer than normal. This was especially true during the first half of the year,” commented Tom Kang, Research Director at Counterpoint Research.

A breakdown of the market across all countries and regions shows that the highest growth with 14 percent, followed by LATAM with 9percent. Others are EU with 7 percent, SE Asia 4percent, Africa 4percent.

Meanwhile, Jeff Fieldhack, Research Director of Counterpoint Research has emphasized that for the refurbished market to expand into new markets, the grading system must be standardized and improved. This is especially true in emerging markets where there is limited oversight and limited protections for consumers if the quality is lower than advertised. There will be improvements as the industry is using new technologies such as artificial intelligence to predict device usability and life spans. There are also new software solutions being developed which will revolutionize grading.

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