Can We Anticipate Smartphone Growth?
Is the smartphone market going to grow much bigger? Of course it is, but the question is how fast.
Before proceeding, let’s familiarize ourselves with the current players along with their numbers. Samsung is the biggest player in the mobile market selling 93 million units in 2nd quarter ending June 2012. Keep in mind that these mobile units include cells and smartphones. Samsung owns about 25% of the market, a total of 362 million units deep; they are also growing the fastest of any of its contenders, i.e., Nokia and Apple.
When it comes to smartphones alone, Apple’s iPhone comes a distant second to, again, Samsung. With Samsung’s smartphone variety they sell almost 200% more units than Apple. Nonetheless, Apple is a big player whose next product, iPhone 5, releasing in September will do well.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially when you think about the relationship between Google and Apple, is a large part of Samsung’s smartphone sales come from Google: more than 50%. The Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus—Google smartphones—for example, are products made jointly by Samsung and Google. After Google acquired Mortorola, it gained access to the largest mobile operating system market for smartphones, Android. It dominates the field and this is in large part how Samsung rules the day.
Now, let’s establish some benchmarks in facilitating a valid projection of smartphone growth. One digression, though, I was always taught that math equals truth yet numbers can be deceiving: kind of a paradox, when you think about it. But as a disclaimer, understand that pass numbers can never determine future results. They may give high probability and that’s it. The benchmarks: the phone (1876), radio (1920), television (1928), PC (1971), cell (1983), and of course, the internet (1990). These dates represent when the technology was either invented or commercialized. By the way, the 1975 Altair 8800 was the real hero for PC’s that ushered in the digital revolution era with its microprocessor.
Anyway, the point is that the above technologies have accelerated the time it takes before they’re used by more than 50% of the population. It took the phone almost 50 years before 25% of the American population owned one. It took the internet less than 10 years. It’s obvious the turnover rate of information technology is quickening.
Let’s agree, for the sake of argument, that the first smartphone—mobile and PDA combined—commercialized was IBM’s 1994 Simon Personal Communicator. In 18 years over 30% of the current American population over 12 years of age own a smartphone. If we stay with the current rate of growth, we could project in the next 24 years over 70% of Americans will own a smartphone. The growth potential is there, already over 75% of our population uses a cell phone of some sort.