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Smartphones - Statistics & Facts

Smartphones, mobile phones with more advanced computing capabilities and connectivity than regular mobile phones, came onto the consumer market in the late 90s, but only gained mainstream popularity with the introduction of Apple’s iPhone in 2007. The iPhone revolutionized the industry by offering customer friendly features such as a touch screen interface and a virtual keyboard. The first smartphone running on Android was introduced to the consumer market in late 2008.

Smartphones: a rapid integration with everyday life

The smartphone industry has been steadily developing and growing since then, both in market size, as well as in models and suppliers. Smartphone shipments worldwide are projected to add up to around 1.48 billion units in 2023.

By the end of 2020, 46.45 percent of the world’s population owned a smartphone. With many people using more than one smartphone, the actual number of smartphone subscriptions is much higher. As of 2021, smartphone users are using an estimated 6.4 billion smartphone subscriptions, a figure that is expected to climb to 7.5 billion by 2026.

Apple and Samsung lead a competitive field

In the fourth quarter of 2020, Apple regained the crown of leading smartphone vendor based on shipments, with 23.8 percent share of the market. Samsung held a 19.1 percent share of the smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2020 but were able to reclaim the top spot from Apple in the opening quarter of 2021, after the effects of Apple’s iPhone 12 launch wore off.

The back and forth between Apple and Samsung is typical at the top end of the market, but the fight for the remaining places among the top five vendors is hotly contested. Huawei once had a solid hold on this position, even leading the market for a time, but trade restrictions have taken a heavy toll on the Chinese smartphone manufacturer. The gap left by Huawei’s decline has largely been filled by other Chinese manufacturers. Xiaomi’s smartphone market share has increased from 10 percent in the first quarter of 2020, to 18 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

Ongoing dominance is never guaranteed

While the market has two fairly consistent leaders, Until the first quarter of 2011, Nokia was the leading smartphone vendor worldwide with a 24 percent market share.

Nokia’s decline serves as a reminder that in an industry at the forefront of tech innovation, keeping ahead of the development curve is crucial. A diminished Nokia was once hard to imagine, but a failure to keep ahead of those that were innovating and changing the face of the smartphone market saw the company left behind.


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