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Ericsson: 70% of world’s population using smartphones by 2020

June 3, 2015  

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Findings from the latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, published today, show that by 2020 advanced mobile technology will be commonplace around the globe: smartphone subscriptions will more than double, reaching 6.1 billion, 70% of the world’s population will be using smartphones, and 90% will be covered by mobile broadband networks.

The report states that growth in mature markets comes from an increasing number of devices per individual. In developing regions, “it comes from a swell of new subscribers” as smartphones become more affordable; almost 80% of smartphone subscriptions added by year-end 2020 will be from Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.

According to Ericsson, with the continued rise of smartphones comes an accelerated growth in data usage: smartphone data is predicted to increase 10-fold by 2020, when 80% of all mobile data traffic will come from smartphones. Average monthly data usage per smartphone in North America will increase from 2.4 GB today to 14 GB by 2020.

“This immense growth in advanced mobile technology and data usage, driven by a surge in mobile connectivity and smartphone uptake, will makes today’s big data revolution feel like the arrival of a floppy disk,” said Rima Qureshi, Ericsson’s chief strategy officer.

“We see the potential for mass-scale transformation, bringing a wealth of opportunities for telecom operators and others to capture new revenue streams. But it also requires greater focus on cost efficient delivery and openness to new business models to compete and remain effective.”

An expanding range of applications and business models coupled with falling modem costs are key factors driving the growth of connected devices, the report stated. Added to this, “new use cases are emerging for both short and long range applications, leading to even stronger growth of connected devices moving forward.”

Ericsson’s forecast, outlined in the report, points to 26 billion connected devices by 2020. Earlier predictions by the company forecast 50 billion connected devices.

The company added that each year until 2020, mobile video traffic will grow by a staggering 55% per year and will constitute around 60% of all mobile data traffic by the end of that period.

Growth is largely driven by shifting user preferences towards video streaming services, and the increasing prevalence of video in online content including news, advertisements and social media, it said.

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