Emerging markets fuel demand for smartphones

Jean-Laurent Poitou, Accenture
11 Aug 2010

Differences in usage and spending on mobile handsets among consumers around the world vary significantly by country. Just as purchases of mobile devices are growing in emerging markets and declining in the developed world, the usage patterns of devices varies by economy as well.

The results of online surveys by Accenture of internet-enabled consumers in eight countries - China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the US - shine light on this fact.

To achieve high performance in the handset market, it will become crucial to focus on emerging countries. A disproportionately high percentage of usage and spending will take place in these countries during the next several years.

Japanese consumers have historically been early adopters of wireless technologies. But with the overall economy stagnating, and the nation's population already heavily equipped with consumer electronics, purchase patterns are reversing. During the past year, only one in five (19%) Japanese respondents bought a mobile handset, compared with the global average of 49%. And 16% plan to buy a mobile handset next year, compared with 36% worldwide. Just 4% plan to purchase a smartphone - more than five times below the 21% global average. The reversal in purchase patterns could partly be explained by a slowing upgrade cycle.

In neighboring China, by contrast, more than twice as many respondents plan to invest in mobile data service for laptops (44% vs., the 21% global average) and mobile data services for mobile phones (41% vs. 22%) over the next year. And when it comes to watching videos on mobile devices, 63% of those surveyed in China viewed clips occasionally - nearly twice the 35% global average.

Overall, 52% of emerging country respondents are likely to buy a smartphone next year compared to only 20% of mature country respondents.

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