Tech research giant Gartner is forecasting that the year-on-year decline in iPhone sales will continue through the rest of 2016, but that Apple will return to growth next year.

Overall stats released by the company relate to the mobile phone market as a whole, where it expects total shipments to fall from 1.917B units in 2015 to 1.887B this year before a slow growth beginning in 2017. The company does, though, make specific reference to the role the iPhone will play …

Despite the availability of the iPhone 7, Gartner expects a weaker year-over-year volume performance from Apple in 2016, as volumes stabilize after a very strong 2015 […]

We expect the market for premium smartphones to return to 3.5 per cent growth in 2017, as stronger replacement cycles kick in and in anticipation of a new iPhone next year, which is expected to offer a new design and new features that are attractive enough to convince more replacement buyers.

Gartner also predicts a decline in the overall ‘Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility)’ sector, which includes the iPad, though it does not comment specifically on prospects for Apple’s tablet. It says the overall market will fall from 196M units last year to 177M this year, and 173M in 2017.

It does, however, see growth in what it calls the premium ultramobiles market in the computer sector, which includes the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Air. Here it is forecasting a rise in overall sales from 44M in 2015 through 49M this year to 61M in 2017 and 75M in the following year. Again, the company makes no specific forecast for Apple products.

Rival market intelligence company Kantar said back in August that iOS devices returned to growth in the U.S. and five biggest European markets, though this was offset by declining sales in China and Japan. It did think that potential upgraders represented a strong opportunity for Apple.

Apple didn’t reveal opening weekend iPhone sales this year, citing supply-side constraints, but we won’t have too long to wait before Apple shares the numbers in its rescheduled earnings call on October 25, with the possibility of new Macs two days later.

Photo: AP Photo/Richard Voge

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