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Smartphone forecasts and assumptions 2007–2020

Smartphones to account for two thirds of all connections by 2020

Smartphone adoption forecasts are now available in GSMA Intelligence.

These forecasts are available for 200+ countries from 2007 to 2020 and include operator-level data for a selected number of markets where smartphone adoption is reported.

Our findings show that smartphones will account for two out of every three mobile connections globally by 2020. The number of smartphone connections will grow threefold over the next six years, reaching six billion by 2020, accounting for two thirds of the nine billion mobile connections by that time. Basic phones, feature phones and data terminals such as tablets, dongles and routers will account for the remaining connections. The study excludes M2M from the connections totals.

In addition, the developing world overtook the developed world in terms of smartphone connections in 2011 and today accounts for two in every three smartphones on the planet. We predict that by 2020, four out of every five smartphone connections worldwide will come from the developing world.

The research also focuses on detailed forecast assumptions and forward-looking implications. The analysis includes views on device availability and pricing, spectrum, operating systems, handset subsidies, mobile tariffs and services, socio-economic factors, and other factors that play an important role in influencing smartphone growth worldwide. These factors notably include:

  • Rapid erosion of the average selling price (ASP) of smartphones is accelerating user migration from basic and feature phones to smartphones
  • Demand for low-end smartphones is driving volume growth, with sub-$50 smartphones becoming a reality
  • Operator-branded smartphones sold via operator retail channels is a key trend driving the low-end segment
  • Operator subsidies continue to play an important role in driving the adoption of high-end devices, but are being scaled back at lower price tiers
  • The availability of 4G-LTE smartphones is influenced by the pace of allocation and assignment of 4G spectrum by regulators around the world
  • The availability of ‘data-centric’ services and tariffs is fuelling the adoption of smartphones in both developed and developing economies
  • In the developing world, smartphone adoption is linked to the availability of data tariffs tailored for cost-conscious prepaid consumers
  • Smartphone growth is negatively impacted by taxation imposed on devices by governments, especially in price-sensitive developing economies
  • In the developing world, there is a correlation between an increase in smartphone adoption and an increase in mobile broadband connections

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