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Latin America Home to 155.9 Million Smartphone Users

The smartphone audience will rise to 245.6 million by 2019

July 30, 2015 | Mobile

Latin America will be home to 155.9 million smartphone users in 2015, a 22.2% year-over-year improvement, eMarketer estimates. This figure will reach 245.6 million by 2019, the end of our forecast period.

Smartphone Users and Penetration in Latin America, by Country, 2014-2019 (millions and % of mobile phone users)

While Latin America is formed by more than 40 countries, the bulk of its smartphone user base is concentrated in six of them. eMarketer estimates a combined 84% of smartphone users in the region will come from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru in 2015. That share will remain more or less unchanged throughout the forecast period, dropping only marginally to 83.1% by 2019.

Such a massive share of the smartphone market south of the Rio Grande is to be expected, considering that these six countries combined will also contribute roughly three-quarters of the region’s population and about 85% to its nominal GDP in 2015, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculations.

Brazil and Mexico, with populations substantially larger than any other country in the region, lead the smartphone user category in absolute terms, with 49.1 million and 38.5 million, respectively, in 2015. Colombia will consolidate its position as the third-largest regional market by this metric, with 16.7 million users this year.

Outside the countries tracked individually by eMarketer in Latin America, there will be 25.0 million smartphone users in 2015. Venezuela will likely contribute the bulk of that tally, thanks to a population nearly identical to that of Peru in size.

Smartphone Connections Worldwide, by Region, 2010-2020 (millions)

The number of smartphone connections, however, is greater because one individual may own or use multiple devices or SIM cards. Accounting for devices, recent research by Ericsson estimated there would be 354 million smartphone connections in Latin America in 2015, ranking third among the five regions tracked by the technology company, with a 10.9% share of an estimated 3.25 billion such connections worldwide this year.

Ericsson also forecast the number of smartphone connections through 2020, when Latin America was expected to reach 603 million—and a slightly smaller 9.9% share worldwide. The lower share is mostly due to rapid uptake expected in the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region that Ericsson predicted would overshadow expansions in any other region.

eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. 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 available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.

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