A Look at Global Smartphone Saturation

by Matt Klassen on August 4, 2011

Almost three decades ago, at the advent of the modern cellphone, the prevailing thought was that it would be a technology of the wealthy elite; a communication luxury of the decadent Western world. But that simply wasn’t to be, as affordably priced cellphones have eked their way into every corner of the globe, finding a home in the hands of everyone from the African Maasai people to the Sherpas of Nepal.

It was interesting to note the same feeling over the past several years regarding smartphones though, as many considered the handheld computers to be out of reach for the average global consumer.

To a point those feelings were justified, as the initial price of modern smartphones did put them out of reach of many, but times, as they say, are changing, and it looks like no one can stop the global smartphone onslaught now.

In a report issued by market research and consultancy firm IMS Research, the global saturation of smartphones is indeed on the rise, with the modern handheld computing and communications device estimated to account for over 28 percent of all handset sales in 2011, totalling more than 420 million devices. That means that more than one quarter of all mobile devices sold this year around the globe will be smartphones, a trend that IMS predicts will only continue to grow.

To wit, IMS has estimated that by 2016, smartphone sales will account for over half of all global mobile handset sales, with cheaper more affordable smartphone options making it possible for many in the 2/3s world to be able to afford them. It is this affordability factor that, much like cellphones before, will allow smartphones to access heretofore untapped markets, putting modern technology in even the poorest of hands.

But not every mobile company is poised to capitalize on this impending global deluge of smartphones, as the high cost of smartphone production and the low profit margins make the technology difficult to sell at an affordable price. Once formidable cellphone manufacturers like Nokia and LG, for instance, have seen their respective shares of the smartphone market drop considerably, meaning that if they’re not able to create an affordable user-friendly smartphone, the market may leave them behind.

On the other hand, companies like Apple and Android-based companies are said to be producing more affordable versions of the most popular smartphones, devices that will be scaled down versions of their more expensive counterparts to be sure, but smartphone devices nonetheless.

So the next time you’re looking to escape the rigours and confines of our Western world, searching for that quiet place to escape your fast paced life, don’t be surprised if Apple or Android has already beaten you there as the smartphone onslaught sweeps the globe.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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