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Rising regional digital star Colombia has joined Brazil and Mexico at the summit of the smartphone market in Latin America. eMarketer estimates that 14.4 million people in Colombia will use smartphones this year, representing a year-over-year gain of more than 23% and about 11% of the 126.1 million smartphone users in the region.
A stable economy and a larger population have propelled Colombia past Argentina as one of the most important smartphone markets in Latin America. We estimate that already in 2013, the smartphone gap between the South American nations was a sizeable 2.9 million; this expanded to almost 4 million in 2014, with Argentina reaching only 10.8 million users.
Not only is Colombia one of the top regional smartphone markets in absolute terms, the country will also finish 2014 with the second-greatest penetration rate for the advanced device among mobile phone users. Trailing only Chile (49.7%) by that metric, smartphone users in Colombia will represent 45.3% of consumers with a mobile phone.
Such high levels of penetration are linked to the country’s commitment to progressive digital policies like “Vive Digital Colombia,” overseen by Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones (MinTIC). Vive Digital Colombia is a four-year plan instrumental in the “widespread adoption of internet and the development of a nationwide digital ecosystem.” During those years, the program is set to quadruple the number of internet connections, a goal easier to achieve via mobile networks instead of laying down costly fiber or cable networks for fixed connections at home.
eMarketer expects the number of smartphone users in Colombia to rise more than 13% in 2015, reaching 16.3 million smartphone users.
Among the swelling number of mobile internet users in Colombia, fully 79.8% of mobile internet traffic was driven by Android in August 2014, according to comScore, up from 74.2% in May 2014. iOS was the most affected by the incumbent’s expansion, going from 11.1% market share to 8.8% during the same period. The comScore measurement includes smartphones and tablets.
Similar to trends observed in more advanced markets the world over and in Latin America, Google’s operating system share is tightly linked to growth, suggesting the low-cost strategy and manufacturer diversification is paying off.
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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