Worldwide Active Smartphone Users Forecast 2014 – 2018: More Than 2 Billion By 2016 [REPORT]

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Ambika Choudhary
Ambika Choudhary Mahajan is a work-from-home mom. A voracious reader, she can read anything and everything she can lay her hands on. At Dazeinfo, she passionately follows Social Media and Internet Industry to bring out the magic of industry intelligence, startups and companies can leverage.

More than 25% of the people walking this planet will be smartphone owners next year. Besides that, the total number of active smartphones in the world are expected to cross the 2 billion figure mark in 2016, predicts eMarketer.

We all know that smartphones are becoming more popular all over the world. An increasing number of those who must use a mobile phone now prefer to buy a smartphone over a feature phone. And this has led to huge spurt in the number of smartphone users globally.

The mobile user forecast by eMarketer takes into account data collected from 41 countries for making this prediction. They have added 19 more countries to their estimates this year and also improved upon their coverage of countries in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.


The Number of Smartphone Users across the World Continues to Rise Y-O-Y but at a Decreasing Rate


  • The total number of smartphone users over the world has risen from 1.31 billion in 2013 to 1.63 billion by the end of CY2014. A growth rate of 32.4%
  • The number of smartphone users is expected to swell to 1.91 billion by the end of the next year. A further addition of 275.6 million users with a growth rate of 25%.
  • The growth rate is further expected to dip to 12.6%, 10.4% and 7.6% in the coming three years. Signifying that though the number of smartphone users will continue to rise in the coming years, the rate of growth will gradually dip with every passing year.
  • The 2 billion user landmark will be surpassed in CY2016.

Smartphone Users as a Percentage of Total Mobile Phone Owners and Global Population

The graph above also indicates what percentage of total mobile users will own smartphones.

  • Nearly one-third of the mobile users over the world were smartphone users in 2013.
  • Two out of every five mobile owners will own a smartphone next year.
  • Within the coming four years, almost half the mobile users will own smartphones. After that feature phone users will become a minority.
  • Nearly 25% of the total humanity will own a smartphone before the next year draws to a close.

 India to Overtake US in 2016

The latest report from eMarketer highlights the number of active smartphone users, not the total smartphones shipped in the country. For an example, in India by the end of Q3, 2014 134 million smartphone devices were shipped and the figure is expected to surge up to 170 million by the end of 2014. In China, more than 700 million smartphones were already shipped by the end of Q2, 2014.

Top 25 countries ranked by smartphone usage 2013 to 2108

  • 2014: China will cross the 500 million active smartphone user landmark.
  • 2015: Russia will become the fourth largest smartphone user population, leaving Japan behind for the first time. At present Japan (which is a fraction of the largest country Russia both in terms of size and population) has 50.8 million smartphone users while Russia has 49.0 million of them. Within the coming year Russia’s smartphone user base will grow at a faster rate than that of Japan. They will get to 58.2 million users and wrest the fourth spot from the Japanese with 57.4 million users.
  • 2016: India will cross the 200 million user mark milestone. It will also leave behind U.S. and become the second largest smartphone market. The smartphone user base in India will grow at 21.56% while that of U.S. will grow only by 7.76%- largely because theirs is already a saturated market while the Indians are still beginning to get used to smartphones.
  • 2017: The U.S. will cross the 200 million smartphone user landmark, and nearly 65% of the American population will flaunt a smartphone.
  • 2018: Indonesia will get to the 100 million smartphone user figure and become the fourth largest smartphone using population in the world.

The greatest reason behind the increasing smartphone penetration is the cost factor. Leaving aside the obscenely priced iPhones and some more devices which come with high-end features, the average selling price (ASP) of smartphones has fallen rapidly over the years and is expected to reach as  low as $265 by 2017. The entry level smartphones are today priced lesser than feature phones with better specifications. With the costs coming down, every person who goes out to buy a mobile phone is tempted to buy a smartphone when he sees that he can get a better phone with more features for the same price or even lesser. International Data Corporation (IDC), which is one of the most reliable sources of data, has already predicted that 43.3% smart connected devices to be sold in 2018 are likely to be priced below $200. With smartphone available at such reasonable prices, why would a buyer NOT prefer it over a feature phone?

Increasing number of people getting equipped with smartphones augurs well for e-commerce. The online retail market has a direct and positive correlation with smartphone penetration. Earlier during the year, we had carried a detailed article about the M-commerce market being expected to touch $626 billion by 2018.

The marketing scene will also undergo a sea change with digital advertising taking precedence over offline advertising as a greater percentage of people will begin to access the internet using their mobile devices.


Bloggers and website owners will have to take special care to make sure that their sites are responsive as the number of people accessing the internet through their handheld devices will go up. Those who make their sites mobile-centric will definitely have an edge over those who do not see the need to do so.


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