Mobile Computing

Gartner: Worldwide Market for Refurbished Smartphones to Be Worth $14 Billion by 2017

According to the research firm Gartner, the worldwide market for refurbished smartphones will grow to 120 million units by 2017, with an equivalent wholesale revenue of around $14 billion. This is up from 56 million units in 2014, with an equivalent wholesale revenue of $7 billion. In North America and Western Europe, the market for refurbished phones is forecast to be worth around $3 billion in 2015, growing to $5 billion in 2017.

Gartner’s report "Reused, Resold, Recycled — Where Do Old Smartphones Go?" included the results of a survey, which was conducted in June 2014 and asked more than 5,600 U.S. and German consumers about their technology usage and attitudes. According to Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner, "While only seven percent of smartphones end up in official recycling programs, 64 percent get a second lease of life, with 23 percent being handed down to other users and 41 percent being traded in or sold privately.” 

She added, "Stakeholders that are already participating in take-back or trade-in programs need to have a strategy for turning used devices into a positive asset.”

Escherich also predicted that the growing number of privately sold smartphones will create competition in the take-back market and drive communications services providers and refurbishers to offer new incentives. She said, "The survey shows that, in the U.S. and Germany, 41 percent of used smartphones find new owners via private sales or trade-ins. This trend applies to all levels of technology users; however, users who identify themselves as 'tech enthusiasts' in particular should be targeted to shift their behavior away from private sales and toward trade-ins." 

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.

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