Smartphone subscriptions to triple by 2019: report

Smartphone subscriptions are expected to triple and smartphone traffic is set to increase 10 times between the end of this year and 2019. About two-thirds of the global population, would by that time be covered by Long Term Evolution (LTE), a report from telecom vendor Ericsson said. LTE is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals.

The third quarter was a good one for smartphone sales, with vendors shipping 258.4 million smartphones, as they set a new record for units shipped in a single quarter by a margin of over 20 million units, according to IDC. That would help the total number of smartphone subscriptions reach 1.9 billion at the end of the year, latest edition of Ericsson's Mobility Report said.

"By 2016 the number of smartphone subscriptions will finally surpass those for basic phones, and by 2019 they will hit 5.6 billion out of a total of 9.3 billion."

According to commentators, there was room for growth in many parts of the world, because even though smartphones accounted for about 55 per cent of all mobile phones sold during the third quarter, they account for only between 25 and 30 per cent of all mobile subscriptions, according to Ericsson.

Meanwhile, India saw the second highest number of new mobile subscriptions in Q3 2013, following China, with a net addition of 10 million mobile subscriptions, which took the total number of Indian mobile subscriptions to 742 million. According to  Douglas Gilstrap, senior vice president and head of strategy at Ericsson, the rapid pace of smartphone uptake had been phenomenal and was set to continue.

It took over five years to reach the first billion smartphone subscriptions, but it would now take less than two to hit the 2 billion mark, he said, adding that smartphone subscriptions would triple between now and 2019.

Interestingly, he said, the trend would be driven by uptake in India and other emerging markets as lower-priced smartphone models became available.

Video was growing at 55 per cent annually, and would represent over 50 per cent of the mobile data traffic, while social networking and web services would account for around 10 per cent each in 2019.

The edition of Ericsson Mobility Report comes with further analysis of app coverage2 – a new approach for the evaluation of network performance and user experience – with special focus on indoor and city environments.