Smartphones Are Now 55% of Global Market, Study Finds

Smartphones are continuing their march toward world domination. On Monday, Ericsson released its latest Mobility Report, showing that 55 percent of mobile phones sold in the third quarter were smartphones and that high-speed cellular service is rapidly covering the planet.

By 2019, the report said, 60 percent of the projected 9.3 billion mobile subscriptions will be for smartphones, although only about 25 percent to 30 percent of subscriptions are currently. Also by 2019, WCDMA/HSPA 3G networks will cover 90 percent of the world's population, while 65 percent will be covered by 4G/LTE networks.

The level of smartphone traffic will boom accordingly, growing 10 times by 2019. By that year, video will represent more than half of all mobile data traffic, as it is currently growing 55 percent annually.

'Phenomenal' Rapid Pace

Douglas Gilstrap, Ericsson senior vice president, said in a statement that "the rapid pace of smartphone update has been phenomenal and is set to continue." While it took more than five years to reach the first billion smartphone subscriptions, he pointed out, the second billion market will be hit in less than two.

Smartphones have become much more than a nice-to-have in many parts of the developed world. The Ericsson report found that good mobile coverage -- the number of bars your reception shows -- is now ranked among "the top five satisfaction factors of life in a city."

With the developed markets approaching saturation in terms of smartphone adoption, the real driver is the growth rate in the emerging markets, most notably population-heavy China and India. While there have been a number of recent developments relating to low-priced smartphones in emerging markets, several companies have made the growth of smartphones in those areas an essential part of their long-term strategy.

For instance, two upstart mobile platforms -- the Firefox and Ubuntu OSes --...

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