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Smartphones to hit 1.7 billion by 2017

26 Sep 2012

Smartphones shipped globally will reach figures of 1.7 billion by 2017 with emerging markets seeing particularly strong growth according to latest findings.

Ovum says 450 million smartphones were sold in 2011, of which around 160 million were sold in emerging markets.

China alone accounted for around 66% of smartphones sold in emerging markets, with the telecoms analyst estimating smartphone shipments could reach nearly 57% of total devices sold in emerging markets by 2017.

“China is at the center of smartphone development and adoption in emerging markets, with the whole ecosystem increasingly geared toward the production of ever-more feature-rich affordable devices," says Shiv Putcha, Ovum Principal Analyst.

"This new wave of affordable smartphones will have a major impact on consumer choice in emerging markets.”

Ovum says while smartphones have become cheaper, affordability remains a big issue in most emerging markets.

Operator subsidies for smartphones are uncommon in emerging markets, hampering the smartphone adoption according to Ovum.

But the analyst says chipset and platform vendors such as Mediatek and Qualcomm are having a significant impact on both smartphone availability and affordability by offering reference designs to their device OEM partners and reducing barriers to entry.

“While much of this development is occurring in China, local brands from other emerging markets are also adopting this model," Putcha says.

"Other emerging markets that will show strong growth include India and Indonesia, with Brazil and Russia following.

“The growth of smartphones in emerging markets will also see a corresponding growth in online services such as cloud, storage, and purchasing based on mobile money transactions.

"OEMs and equipment vendors will also increase their presence in online services.”

“However, mobile operators seeking to gain a slice of the growth in low-cost smartphones in emerging markets through white-labeled devices will struggle to gain traction in the market and achieve the same success as the more established brands."

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