Daily Dose of iQ: Emerging Markets Driving Global Smartphone Sales

May 30, 2012 — Allan Pulga

Seems like everybody has a smartphone these days, but what are smartphone adoption levels like around the world?

New research from Euromonitor International forecasts that global smartphone sales will reach $137.4 billion in 2012.

To put that into perspective, Euromonitor reported annual smartphone sales went from $7.9 billion in 2005 to $83.3 billion in 2010.

Euromonitor reported that smartphones are having an increased effect on mobile commerce and purchasing behavior:

  • Mobile phones were used to buy an item or service at least once per month by 30% of online respondents.
  • As many as 33% of Chinese respondents make a purchase using a mobile phone at least once per week, compared to just 6-7% of respondents in France, Germany and Japan.
  • 33% of respondents compare prices in-store with a phone at least once a month, while 30% make purchases with a mobile.
  • China had the highest share of respondents who compare prices in-store at least once per week, at 39%, while 43% read reviews on their mobile phones.

Sales of Smartphones by World Region 2010-2015 (Source: Euromonitor)

In the above graph (Sales of Smartphones by World Region 2010-2015), Euromonitor plotted smartphone growth in different world regions.

Surprisingly, North American smartphone sales are dwarfed by the Middle East and Africa (Asia Pacific, Western Europe, and Latin America were expected). But perhaps, India is included in Euromonitor's stats for "Middle East and Africa," which would make a lot of sense based on these numbers.

With respect to emerging markets, Euromonitor highlighted the case of Nigerian Internet access: Just 9.3% of Nigerian households had an Internet-connected computer in 2011, up from 2.7% in 2006, but the number of Internet users grew from 665.7% over the same period.

TheNextWeb.com reported last August that Nigeria has over 90 million phone subscribers and quoted a Microsoft South Africa Executive in saying that mobile devices such as smartphones are entring the African market four times faster than PCs or laptops.

So, smartphone adoption in emerging markets is unique in that people are forgoing the purchase of a computer to access the Internet. It's a totally different scenario than what we have in North America, which helps to explain why smartphone adoption is expected to grow in emerging markets at a higher rate than in the West.

Topics: Retail Operations, Mobile Industry, e-Commerce

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