Mobile subscriptions are expected to reach 9.3 billion globally by 2019, and more than 60% of these – 5.6 billion – will be for smartphones, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.
A significant proportion of this growth will be driven by the uptake of smartphones in the Middle East and Africa as people increasingly exchange their basic phones for smartphones, which will consist of 50% of total handsets in the region by 2019.
Currently, smartphones represent 25-30% of all mobile phone subscriptions, yet they account for the majority (55%) of mobile phones sold in Q3 2013.
In 2019, almost all handsets in Western Europe and North America will be smartphones.
To support the smartphone user experience, WCDMA/HSPA networks are predicted to cover 90% of the world’s population by 2019. Moreover, almost 65% of the world’s population will be covered by 4G/LTE networks.
In 2013, the Middle East and Africa has been dominated by GSM/EDGE, which represents around 80% of mobile subscriptions in the region. Dramatic changes will take place in the coming years, and in 2019 WCDMA/HSPA and LTE will represent the same share of subscriptions as GSM/EDGE does today, the report states.
Anders Lindblad, president of Ericsson, Middle East, said: “The rapid pace of smartphone uptake in the region has been phenomenal, with six million new mobile subscriptions in the Middle East in Q3 2013 alone. Amazingly, this growth does not show signs of slowing down. In the Middle East and Africa, mobile traffic will increase 11 fold between 2013 and 2019.
“Mobile users in the Middle East are contributing massively to global growth overall, leading the region closer to a Networked Society, where everything is connected in real time.”
Smartphone traffic will grow by 10 times between 2013 and 2019, reaching 10 exabytes. Video is growing 55% annually, and will represent more than 50% of the mobile data traffic, while social networking and web services will account for around 10% each in 2019.