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25% of phone users worldwide will have smartphones by 2016, study says

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The number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016, according to new figures from eMarketer — after nearly getting there in 2015. Next year, there will be more than 1.91 billion smartphone users across the globe, a figure that will increase another 12.6% to reach nearly 2.16 billion in 2016.

For the first time, more than one-quarter of the global population will be using smartphones in 2015, and by 2018, eMarketer estimates, more than one-third of the world’s population, or more than 2.56 billion people, will do so. That 2018 figure also represents more than half — 51.7% — of all mobile phone users, meaning that feature phones will have finally become a minority in the telecommunications world.

Inexpensive smartphones are opening new opportunities for marketing and commerce in emerging markets where many consumers previously had no access to the internet. Meanwhile, in mature, established markets, smartphones are quickly shifting the paradigm for consumer media usage and the impressing the need for marketers to become more mobile-centric.

Our latest mobile user forecast added 19 new countries, bringing our total to 41 — including our first estimates for any individual countries in Middle East & Africa. In addition, we significantly expanded our coverage of countries in Southeast Asia, Central & Eastern Europe and Latin America.

On a country-by-country basis, here are year-by-year other milestones eMarketer anticipates during our forecast period:
• 2014: China to top 500 million smartphone users for the first time
• 2015: Russia will surpass Japan as 4th largest smartphone user population
• 2016: India will exceed 200 million smartphone users, topping the • 2016 US as the world’s 2nd largest smartphone market
• 2017: US makes it to 200 million smartphone users, or 65% of the total population
• 2018: Indonesia hits 100 million smartphone users, firmly established as the 4th largest smartphone user population.

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