Strategy Analytics pegs the number of smartphone handsets than were active between July and September this year as 1.038 billion, equivalent to one for every seven people on the planet. That’s up 47 percent from the same period last year.
The company notes that the first handset to meet its definition of a smartphone was the Nokia Communicator in 1996. While it’s taken 16 years to get to the billion mark, the company predicts the number of smartphones in use will double by 2015.
It’s good news for the smartphone industry, though it appears to be particular good news for Strategy Analytics, which is charging $6,999 for a copy of its full report. That means its not easy to check the precise methodology it used to come up with the billion handset figure.
ReadWriteWeb points out that the forecast for hitting the two billion mark is probably an underestimate. The three year timescale almost perfectly matches what would happen if the number of smartphones added in the past year continues at the same rate.
In reality, it’s possible smartphone adoption will increase even more quickly if manufacturers continue to break new markets, particular the types of places such as Brazil, China and India which have large populations that are getting more disposable income.
I’d also expect to see a faster smartphone adoption coming from manufacturers turning their attention to low-price, basic handsets that still qualify as smartphones. In a lot of markets, the point is rapidly approaching where even people on a budget may opt for a smartphone, particular where they can get a contract-free handset without having to break the bank.
There’ll also inevitably be a demographic shift as a higher proportion of the population is made up of people who’ve always been around smartphones and don’t either fear or dismiss the technology.