Global smartphone sales to reach 1bn units

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Spurred by endless hype over the latest models, the smartphone industry is expected to rake in billions of unit sales this year. However, about 20 per cent of the owners of these devices rarely use them to go online.

According to research by accounting firm Deloitte, smartphones are here to stay and are quickly becoming an indispensible part of people’s lives across the world. As a result, the total number of active phones with alphabetic keyboards or touch screens will likely balloon to two billion by the end of this year.

This market dominance comes as a result of cheaper prices and the introduction of better mobile networks. For example, while the iPhone’s selling price of US$600 (£370) has made it expensive, high-quality devices from Samsung, Nokia and HTC are now offered for a fraction of that price. These more affordable smartphones also come with features that most consumers desire: fast processors, bright screens, and good cameras. In addition, Deloitte estimates that 500 million smartphones were sold for under US$100, and some companies are developing US$50 devices for emerging markets.

However, studies in several nations revealed that one out of five smartphone owners rarely or never go online. In fact, many owners don’t even bother to subscribe for mobile internet.

Nonetheless, these devices are being used for usual mobile activities such as voice calls, text messaging, and taking pictures. This trend is attributed to low data plan penetration despite the growing use of the smartphone, said Paul Lee, Research Head at Deloitte Telecoms.

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