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Brief Published: 17 Jun 2013

Around the World: Smartphones & Tablets


New statistics show that the growth of smartphone and tablet use around the world is accelerating, with high population countries like India and China leading the way towards global connectivity.

Data analysis released last week from US mobile analytics firm Flurry shows that between April 2012 and April 2013, China’s connected device base (the number of active smartphones and tablet computers) rose by 149%. India’s grew by 160%.

Flurry predicts that at the current level of growth, the number of connected devices around the world will reach two billion by 2014. The fastest-growing countries are those with large populations and low mobile and smartphone penetration – like China and India.

As a result, Flurry predicts a shift in both hardware and software design. As the penetration rate rises in less affluent countries, there will be more of a focus on lower cost, more robust devices and a greater diversity of apps and services.

Manufacturers are beginning to respond to this shift – according to data from global research firm International Data Corp, smartphones costing under $250 comprised 37% of all units shipped during 2012. Devices such the budget smartphone Huawei 4Afrika – the first device to emerge from a partnership between Chinese tech firm Huawei and US tech company Microsoft – are the first of many. Learn more in Future Mobile Trends.

While consumers in emerging markets are getting to grips with their first connected devices, consumers in the West are purchasing their second or third. New research from US research firm Pew Research Institute released this month revealed that tablet ownership in the US has doubled over the past year. Some 34% of US adults now own a tablet computer, up from 18% 12 months ago. Smartphones remain popular among younger adults aged 18 to 34 (see US Teens and Social Media for more), while the highest rates of tablet ownership come from older adults in their late 30s and early 40s.

Flurry / Pew Research