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Smartphone is the Godzilla of Global Goods

(Posted on Jun 17, 2014 at 12:00PM )
Talk about a growth market. A new survey by eMarketer indicates that smartphones are where the action is: by the end of 2014, 1.76 billion people are expected to own and use smartphones monthly. That’s growth of more than 25 percent over 2013. And that is one global Godzilla.

The data indicates that by 2017, more than one-third of all people around the globe will be smartphone users. eMarketer’s estimates for smartphone users tally the number of individuals who own and use smartphones (not the number of smartphones each of those individuals might have).

In fact, smartphone usage has already saturated more than half of the population in many countries—or will in the next few years.

“By 2015, we project that 15 countries worldwide will have seen more than half their populations adopt smartphones,” said Monica Peart, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer. “The embrace of this technology among the approximately 500 million people in these countries who will be using smart devices by the end of next year will have a significant influence on media usage, ecommerce, and marketing.”

Consumers in Asia-Pacific will account for more than half of all smartphone users this year, eMarketer estimates, totaling 951.0 million.

South Korea is the world leader in terms of smartphone penetration, where smartphones were in the hands of more than half the citizens by 2012. Australia followed closely behind, becoming the only other country in Asia-Pacific to have more than half its population using smartphones in 2013.

Japan is expected to reach the 50 percent tipping point in 2014. Though China will not reach majority-smartphone status until 2018, its smartphone user base is already the largest in the world by far—totaling 521.7 million this year.

Western Europe—the region with the second-largest number of smartphone users, with 196.6 million in 2014, eMarketer estimates—saw three Nordic countries reach 50 percent penetration last year, and this year, the Netherlands and UK will join them. In 2015, a raft of other countries, including the rest of the EU-5, will make the majority smartphone jump.

Like the UK, the US will also reach majority-smartphone penetration among its population this year, a major milestone for two of the most advanced internet markets in the world. The US remains the second-largest smartphone market worldwide, behind China, totaling 163.9 million users in 2014, eMarketer estimates. The US will retain that status until 2016, when India is projected to nab the second place spot. Canada will be soon to follow, with smartphone users surpassing 50 percent of the population in 2015.

By Michael Essany

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