Cellcos may lose grip on smartphone sales

Dylan Bushell-Embling
20 Jan 2014

Australian operators are losing control over consumer smartphone sales, with 2013 marking the first time less than half of devices acquired during the year came through mobile service contracts.

Only 43% of Australian smartphone users aged 16 years and older who acquired a device during the year received it through a mobile service contract, research from analyst firm Telsyte shows.

Around 30% chose to instead buy their smartphone outright, and the remainder received their smartphone as a gift, company phone or hand-me-down.

Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi attributed the change in part to an accelerated handset upgrade cycle. “The unbundling of handset and mobile service contracts has been growing in popularity as consumers seek new handsets more frequently than the typical 24 month contract,” he said.

The influx of new devices has also created a glut of hand-me-down handsets, with the gifted, hand-me-down and second-hand smartphone user segment nearly doubling during 2013.

Telsyte estimates that there were 15 million Australian smartphone users by the end of the year, an increase of 2.6 million from 2012. Android leads the market with an installed base of just over 50%, but iOS isn't far behind with an estimated share of 42%.

Android is forecast to hold on to at least 50% of the market through to 2018. But Telsyte expects the challenger platforms including Microsoft, Tizen, Sailfish and Firefox to increase their collective share from just 8% last year to 16% by 2018.

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