What happened?

Noted IT markets research company IDC has taken the chop to its 2016 smartphone sales projections, notably those of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone. IDC now anticipates that worldwide smartphone unit sales in 2016 will increase by 3.1% from the previous year to a total of 1.48 billion units. That's below the company's previous forecast of 5.7% growth to 1.50 billion units.

Image source: Toomacz via Pixabay

As for the iPhone specifically, IDC cut its estimates down into the red. Its new projections anticipate a 2% year-over-year decline in sales volume for the iconic brand to 227 million units. IDC previously believed sales would be flat for the period, holding steady at around 232 million.

Lower demand in mature markets such as the U.S. is a key reason for the revised estimates.

Does it matter?

Even if Apple stock enthusiasts buy into IDC's downbeat immediate-future scenario, they shouldn't bite their nails too much. The researcher opined that "Apple can bring iPhone back to growth in 2017 and beyond supported by its early trade-in program as well as the lower cost iPhone SE." It also pointed out, quite accurately, that the company is making an active effort to crack higher-growth markets such as the Middle East and India.

Still, Apple fans would do well to keep an eye on the competition. IDC forecasts better times for the company's arch-rival in the smartphone platform space, the Android operating system from Alphabet. IDC is forecasting year-over-year unit growth of 6.2% in 2016 for Android devices. This would give Alphabet's platform a market share of nearly 84% for the year, compared to just 15% for Apple devices.

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