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2 Billion Consumers Worldwide to Get Smart(phones) by 2016

Over half of mobile phone users globally will have smartphones in 2018

December 11, 2014 | Mobile

The number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016, according to new figures from eMarketer—after nearly getting there in 2015. Next year, there will be over 1.91 billion smartphone users across the globe, a figure that will increase another 12.6% to near 2.16 billion in 2016.

Smartphone Users and Penetration Worldwide, 2013-2018 (billions, % of mobile phone users and % change)

For the first time, more than one-quarter of the global population will use smartphones in 2015, and by 2018, eMarketer estimates, over one-third of consumers worldwide, or more than 2.56 billion people, will do so. That 2018 figure also represents over half—51.7%—of all mobile phone users, meaning that feature phones will have finally become a minority in the telecommunications world.

Inexpensive smartphones are opening new opportunities for marketing and commerce in emerging markets where many consumers previously had no access to the internet. Meanwhile, in mature, established markets, smartphones are quickly shifting the paradigm for consumer media usage and impressing the need for marketers to become more mobile-centric.

eMarketer’s latest mobile user forecast added 19 new countries, bringing the total to 41—including our first estimates for any individual countries in the Middle East and Africa. In addition, we significantly expanded our coverage of countries in Southeast Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

On a country-by-country basis, here are year-by-year other milestones eMarketer expects during its forecast period:

  • 2014: China will top 500 million smartphone users for the first time.
  • 2015: Russia will surpass Japan as the fourth-largest smartphone user population.
  • 2016: India will exceed 200 million smartphone users, topping the US as the world’s second-largest smartphone market.
  • 2017: The US will surpass 200 million smartphone users, or nearly 65% of the country’s total population.
  • 2018: Indonesia will pass 100 million smartphone users, firmly established as the fourth-largest smartphone user population.

Following are the top 25 countries worldwide ranked by smartphone users in 2014, according to eMarketer estimates.

Top 25 Countries, Ranked by Smartphone Users, 2013-2018 (millions)

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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