Smartphones to account for 50% of all handsets by 2019

November 13, 2013 6:26 am

Mobile subscriptions to reach 1.9 billion this year and will continue to grow

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report reveals that mobile subscriptions are expected to reach 9.3 billion in the Mea region by 2019. Of which, more than 60 per cent (5.6 billion) will be for smartphones, as people are more likely to exchange their basic model for a smartphone, thus comprising 50 per cent of total handsets in the region.

To support the smartphone user experience, WCDMA/HSPA networks are predicted to cover 90 per cent of the world’s population by 2019, followed by 4G/LTE networks at 65 per cent. Currently, smartphones represent only 25 per cent to 30 per cent of all mobile phone subscriptions, yet they account for the majority – 55 per cent – of mobile phones sold in Q3, 2013.

This year, the Mea region was been dominated by GSM/EDGE, which represents 80 per cent of mobile subscriptions in the region. Dramatic changes will take place in the coming years and in 2019, WCDMA/HSPA and 4G/LTE will represent the same share of subscriptions as GSM/EDGE does today.

In 2019, almost all handsets in Western Europe and North America will be smartphones, when compared with 50 per cent in the Mea region. The overall smartphone subscriptions will reach 1.9 billion at the end of 2013 and are expected to grow to 5.6 billion in 2019. One of the main reasons for this would be a notable increase in subscriptions in the Asia-Pacific and Mea regions, due in part to the availability of inexpensive smartphones.

“The rapid pace of smartphone uptake in the region has been phenomenal, with six million new mobile subscriptions in the Middle East region in Q3 2013 alone,” says Anders Lindblad, president at Ericsson Middle East. “Amazingly, this growth does not show signs of slowing down. In the Mea region, mobile traffic will increase 11-fold between 2013 and 2019. Mobile users are contributing massively to the global growth, leading the region closer to a networked society, where everything is connected in real time.”

Smartphone traffic will grow by ten times between 2013 and 2019, reaching ten exabytes. Video is growing by 55 per cent annually and will represent more than 50 per cent of the mobile traffic data, while social networking and web services will account for approximately ten per cent each in 2019.

This report includes further analysis of app coverage  – a new approach to evaluating network performance and user experience – with particular focus on indoor and city environments. Radio signals attenuate rapidly as they go through buildings and high concentration of users, building materials and heights also pose additional challenges.

Having good mobile coverage is now ranked among the top five satisfaction factors of life in a city. As the majority of mobile traffic originates from cities, Ericsson compared three different strategies to provide indoor coverage, using simulation software to predict the extent of app coverage in high-rise buildings. It also developed the Traffic Exploration Tool, for creating customised graphs and tables using data from the report, which can be filtered by region, subscription, technology, traffic and device type.