The number of people using smartphones around the globe will continue to accelerate in 2014, growing to 1.76 billion people--up more than 25 percent over 2013, according to a new report from eMarketer. Around 1.4 billion people owned and used smartphone monthly worldwide in 2013, according to the firm.
The report found that just under a quarter of the world's total population will use smartphones this year, and by 2017, more than a third of all people around the globe will be smartphone users. The research firm notes that its estimates for smartphone users account for the number of individuals who own and use smartphones, regardless of the number of smartphones each of those individuals might have.
The U.S. and many Western markets already have high levels of smartphone users, a trend that is likely to spread to many other markets. "By 2015, we estimate that 15 countries worldwide will have seen more than half their populations adopt smartphones," Monica Peart, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer, said in a statement. "The embrace of mobile technology among nearly 500 million people in these countries will have wide-ranging influence on media usage, e-commerce and marketing."
Consumers in the Asia-Pacific region will lead the way in smartphone usage, totaling 951 million users, or more than half of all global smartphone users, eMarketer estimates. China, the world's most populous country and the largest smartphone market by volume, will have a majority of its population using smartphones by 2018, eMarketer predicted. However, its smartphone user base is already by far the largest in the world at 521.7 million this year, according to eMarketer.
Interestingly, eMarketer expects that more than 50 percent of Americans will own smartphone this year. Canada will pass that mark next year, the firm said.
However, last year several research firms announced that smartphone penetration in the U.S. had crossed the 50 percent mark. For instance, in June 2013, the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project reported that 58 percent of U.S. cell phone owners said that their phone operates on a smartphone platform. Separately, Nielsen reported in June 2013 that 61 percent of mobile subscribers in the U.S. owned a smartphone during the March to May 2013 period.
An eMarketer spokesman told FierceWireless that the Nielsen study measured smartphone penetration against total mobile subscribers and the Pew study measured against cell phone owners, "whereas eMarketer's figure denotes smartphone users as a percentage of total population, whether or not they have a mobile phone."
Meanwhile, eMarketer said the U.S. remains the second-largest smartphone market in the world, behind China, and will have 163.9 million smartphone users in 2014. The U.S. will retain that status until 2016, when India will take over the second spot, the firm predicted.