According to data compiled from a number of respected sources, including the UN’s International Telecommunications Union and the U.S. Census Bureau, it appears that smartphones could soon reach 75% market penetration in a shorter amount of time than any other technology in history.
Even giants like Google and Facebook are trying to cash in on smartphones. This past May, Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, and stories of Facebook recruiting engineers to build hardware for its own smartphone (its third attempt according to some) have been circulating for quite a while.
What does this mean for the market-dominating Android OS? And where do tablets fit into all this?
The Decline of Mobile?
According to a recent Gartner Report, the number of mobile phones sold worldwide dropped in the first quarter of 2012 by 2 percent—the first decline since 2009.
In Q1 2012, global sales of mobiles surpassed 419 million units—putting them far ahead of the 144 million units of smartphones sold during this period. But put another way, sales of mobiles dropped by 2%, while sales of smartphones shot up by nearly 45%.
Samsung Dethrones Nokia
Since 1998, Finnish firm Nokia has been the king of mobile sales. Perhaps no more. Korean giant Samsung recently surpassed Nokia in mobile sales. With more than 38 million smartphones sold worldwide, Samsung also leads in smartphone sales, beating out Apple.
Android Still Dominates
As sales of smartphones grow, Android continues to enjoy its sizeable lead. According to comScore’s latest report, Android’s market share grew to 52.2% in July. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS also grew from 31.4% to 33.4%. Together, these the two market favourites have snapped up 85.6% of the market.
Both Android and Samsung, which released its Galaxy S III in June, are expected to see strong results in the current quarter. Insiders are also predicting strong results for Apple later this year when its next-generation iPhone hits stores.
China Hungry for Apple
Since launching its iPhone 4S, Apple has seen its unit sales of smartphones double in just one year, according to the Gartner Report. Apple’s current third-place position in global smartphone sales may be temporary, however, if China continues its Apple-buying trend: 5 million Apple smartphones were sold in Q1 2012 alone. This makes China Apple’s second-biggest market after the U.S.
Will Tablets Spread Even Faster than Smartphones?
As smartphones continue their brisk pace toward the benchmark of 75% market saturation, tablets have shot to 10% market penetration in an incredibly short amount of time—thanks in large part to the immense popularity of the Apple iPad.
Will this trend continue? It remains to be seen. But with the Microsoft Surface slated to go on sale October 26th of this year (right in time for the holiday-busying season), industry experts will be keeping a very close eye on how sales of consumer tablets develop.
In the meantime, we’ll just have to wait and see if Facebook ever does launch its own smartphone.
Businessweek says tablets will eventually replace smartphones. What do you think?