Connecting the Globe: Mobile Phone Use Grows, Smartphones Catching Up

comScore U.S. Smartphone Ownwership Nears 200 MillionIt’s a chattering world these days and a decisive shift from feature phones to smartphones is happening in almost every global market.

While the rate at which it’s happening differs from region to region, recent estimates reveal that roughly half (49.7 percent) of mobile phone users across the globe will use a smartphone at least once a month in 2016.

That insight comes from a new eMarketer report — “Global Mobile Landscape 2016: A Country-by-Country Look at Mobile Phone and Smartphone Usage” — which estimates that that there will 4.30 billion mobile phone users worldwide in 2016, representing 58.7 percent of the global population. That number is expected to grow to 4.78 billion in 2020.

North America is the worldwide leader by that metric. Fully 78.7 percent of mobile phone users there are currently using smartphones, while Western Europe is right behind at 71.7 percent.

Smartphone user growth rates will be more robust in regions playing catch-up. For instance, smartphone users will grow by 17.1 percent in Latin America this year — and Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific will also experience growth rates in the low to mid-teens in 2016.

“The demand for smartphones in Asia-Pacific is highest in China and emerging markets in Southeast Asia,” according to eMarketer. “An August, 2016 forecast from GfK (indicates) smartphone unit sales in China will rise by 14 percent this year, due primarily to operator subsidies fueling device adoption in rural areas of the country.”