Smartphones have shaped a generation of job seekers and tech users, but is this growth sustainable? Emerging markets hold the answer to this.


As one of the most revolutionary trends of the last decade, smartphone adoption has shaped more than just consumer habits, with industries and jobs changing to accommodate, utilise and profit from its development.

With such rapid growth observed over the past few years, some may be wondering if there is anywhere else for the smartphone to go. Surely everyone who was going to buy one already has?

In fact, this isn’t the case at all. While growth rates may be slowing, the devices are still very much in demand, and new markets are beginning to emerge that haven’t been able to make use of smartphones in the past.

Where are smartphones yet to reach?

According to technology research firm Gartner, emerging markets were a key driver in the smartphone market for Q1 of 2015. For the purposes of this study, the Asia/Pacific region, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa were all defined as emerging markets.

These regions alone saw smartphone sales increase by 40 per cent during the first quarter of this year.

Not only is there an emerging market for these devices, but there are emerging manufacturers and industries as well, with a local influence taking over the global reach of companies such as Apple and Samsung.

“During this quarter, local brands and Chinese vendors came out as the key winners in emerging markets,” said Research Director Anshul Gupta.

“These vendors recorded an average growth of 73 per cent in smartphone sales and saw their combined share go up from 38 per cent to 47 per cent during the first quarter of 2015.”

How long until these markets catch up?

According to mobile network provider Ericsson, there are still a few years to go before these markets achieve the same level of smartphone dispersal as established markets.

The firm believes there is still room in these markets for the number of smartphone users to double by 2020, which would result in 70 per cent of the global population possessing one of these devices.

These increases are already being observed. So far in 2015, mobile data traffic has seen a 55 per cent increase over the same period last year. Ericsson credits this to a rise in demands for video content for the growth, a trend the company is expecting to shape 60 per cent of all mobile internet traffic by 2020.

Overall, mobile traffic will increase by a staggering amount. Cisco is forecasting growth that will see mobile internet use increase by 65 per cent, taking the total to 15.9 exabytes in 2019 – nearly 16 billion gigabytes.