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article imageSmartphone ownership to hit two-thirds of all adults next year

By James Walker     Oct 16, 2017 in Technology
Two-thirds of all adults worldwide will own smartphones by the end of 2018, according to new predictions from media measurement firm Zenith. Growth is being led by emerging regions as saturation rises above 90 percent in some European and Asian countries.
Zenith said the number of smartphone owners will increase by seven percent next year to reach 66.5 percent. This represents another steady decline in the smartphone market's growth. In 2017, the increase is expected to be 10 percent over last year. 2016 was a 14 percent increase, following 21 percent in 2015.
Smartphone proliferation
Smartphones have been one of the fastest-growing and most universally popular tech items in history. The massive demand for new handsets over the last decade is now coming to a close though. With smartphone ownership spreading across the globe, handset makers will start to find first-time buyers are a rare opportunity.
In established markets, smartphone ownership is now well over 80 percent of all adults. Zenith said the Netherlands will be the most penetrated market next year at 94 percent of the population. All the most saturated areas are in Western Europe or the Asian Pacific region. Manufacturers are looking to still-emerging countries such as India as their next major source of customers.
Importance of mobile
Convincing two-thirds of the world's population to purchase a smartphone indicates just how successful the concept has been. Mobile is now well established as the most important platform for brands to have a presence on. More users now access the web from mobile devices than desktop computers as many people own only a smartphone.
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Brands have been quick to realise the potential of mobile platforms. The opportunities presented by push notifications, tailored content, constant tracking and the expectation that smartphones accompany their owners everywhere have enabled the expansion of social networks, commerce platforms and emerging tech like mobile payments. The effect has seen mobile tech create its own success, with benefits enjoyed by consumers and businesses alike.
"Because the Internet is now mobile, brands have the opportunity to use it to communicate to customers during more of their lives – when they are shopping, socialising and travelling as well as when at their desk," said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith's Head of Forecasting and Director of Global Intelligence. "By reaching consumers at the right occasions with tailored messages, brands can guide them through the consumer journey more effectively."
The future
Looking forward, Zenith said it expects the mobile market to continue to grow over the next few years as consumers in emerging regions come online. The ecosystem around the mobile web is still expanding and developing too. It will extend its lead over desktop devices in the coming years, attracting more businesses to concentrate their ad spends on mobile.
In 2017, 53 percent of all ad expenditure will be directed to mobile devices, suggesting marketers are still dividing their budgets equally between desktops and phones. Next year, they'll look more closely at mobile and allocate 59 percent of their resources to smartphones. By 2019, the figure will be 62 percent, representing an investment of $156 billion.
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