Expect 3.5 Billion Global Smartphone Subscribers By 2019

In 2012, the number of smartphone subscribers worldwide passed the 1 billion mark, primarily due to adoption in North America and Europe. But the focus of the smartphone market is now shifting toward Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa (MEA), and Latin America. These three regions, which are home to 84% of the world’s population, will contribute a significant proportion of the next 2.5 billion subscribers, which Forrester believes will happen by 2019. According to our recently published Forrester Research World Mobile and Smartphone Adoption Forecast, 2014 to 2019 (Global), Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing region in terms of subscribers with a CAGR of 14%, followed by MEA, and Latin America. Some of the findings from the forecast:

  • Low-cost smartphones are turning feature phone subscribers into smartphone subscribers. Chinese companies such as iocean, JiaYu, Meizu, Xiaomi, and Zopo and Indian players like Karbon and Micromax are flooding the market with sub-$200 Android-based smartphones. Declining smartphone prices and shrinking feature phone product lines have contributed to a steep rise in smartphone subscriptions: More than 46% of mobile subscribers owned a smartphone in 2013, compared with 9% in 2009. By 2019, we expect that 85% of all mobile subscribers will have smartphones.
  • The focus is shifting to India. India is the fastest-growing market for smartphones; as such, it’s attracting most of the focus from vendors. Gionee, Huawei, Konka, Lenovo, Xiaomi, and ZTE have recently entered the market, and Google launched its Android One program in partnership with Indian companies to provide sub-$100 Android phones.
  • BYOD adoption is curbing the growth in smartphone subscriptions purchased by businesses. The share of smartphone subscriptions that are purchased by businesses is expected to decline in the next five years due to increases in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) adoption. Increased BYOD adoption increases the opportunities for mobile vendors and mobile device management companies to collaborate. Apple and IBM have already announced a partnership to provide industry-specific mobile enterprise solutions for iPhone and iPad.
  • Android and iOS have the lead in mobile operating systems, but Windows Phone is picking up. Low-cost phones are powering Android’s market leadership, while new markets like India, China, and Japan are contributing to the growth of iOS. Windows Phone is picking up in Asia Pacific, Africa, and Europe due to the expansion of its product line and price range, brand recall value, and Nokia’s service network.

This increase in smartphone adoption will open up a world of opportunity for companies in eCommerce, mCommerce, digital advertising, social media, mobile apps, mobile payments, banking, and content providers by offering a direct channel to 3.5 billion customers.

Related Forrester Research

Forrester Research World Mobile and Smartphone Adoption Forecast, 2014 To 2019 (Global)