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According to new figures from eMarketer, several markets worldwide reached a milestone in mobile usage last year. By the end of 2012, over half of mobile phone users in six countries had made the switch from feature phones to smartphones. The coming years will see a domino effect hit regions around the world as smartphones become the norm in more places.
The worldwide smartphone penetration rate among mobile users will remain just under one-third in 2013, eMarketer expects, and will approach the halfway point by 2017.
eMarketer develops its forecast through a relatively distinct methodology, forming its estimates of mobile and smartphone usage and penetration based on an analysis of survey and traffic data from research firms and regulatory agencies, historical trends, company-specific data and country-specific demographic and socio-economic factors.
In this case, eMarketer evaluated more than 2,200 data points from more than 220 research sources—all of which are carefully evaluated by eMarketer for historical accuracy, definitional discrepancies and methodology—before developing its bottom-up model for global mobile phone and smartphone usage.
In 2012, eMarketer estimates, six countries—South Korea, Norway, Sweden, Australia, the UK and the US—saw smartphone user penetration rates among mobile phone users rise above 50% for the first time.
As a percentage of population, a majority of residents in South Korea, Australia, Norway and Sweden will also use smartphones this year, eMarketer estimates, though average penetration worldwide among the total population will come in under 20%.
South Korea led the world last year in the share of mobile users who used a smartphone, at 60%. Australia, at 53%, was the only other country in Asia-Pacific to pass the halfway mark in 2012, with Japan set to follow in 2014.
In regional terms, only North America will boast average smartphone penetration rates above 50% in 2013 among mobile users, as Canada crosses the 50% mark this year. Western Europe as a whole will cross that boundary in 2014.
Led by Nordic countries Norway and Sweden, along with the UK, Western Europe boasted three countries with smartphone penetration above 50% among mobile users in 2012. Two other Nordic countries and the Netherlands will follow close behind, and larger markets including Germany, France, Italy and Spain will pass the smartphone tipping point in 2014.
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