Smartphones in Use Surpass 1 Billion, Will Double by 2015

The number of smartphones in use globally crossed 1 billion for the first time in the third quarter and will double by 2015, after the introduction of Apple Inc.’s iPhone fueled demand, according to Strategy Analytics.

The number reached 1.038 billion in the three-month period, a 47 percent increase from a year earlier, the Boston-based industry researcher said in a statement today. That translates into one in every seven people worldwide owning a handheld device that works like a computer, according to the statement.

While Nokia Oyj introduced the world’s first “modern” smartphone in 1996, the industry’s expansion accelerated on the popularity of the iPhone, Strategy Analytics said. As smartphone use spreads to emerging markets, it probably will take less than three years for another billion devices to be added, the researcher said.

“Smartphone penetration is still relatively low,” Neil Mawston, London-based executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in the statement. “Most of the world does not yet own a smartphone and there remains huge scope for future growth, particularly in emerging markets such as China, India and Africa.”

The growth of the smartphone market, estimated by Bloomberg Industries to be worth $219 billion last year, has helped Apple and Samsung Electronics Co. rack up record earnings as they take sales from rivals including Espoo, Finland-based Nokia. Last month, Cupertino, California-based Apple sold more than 5 million iPhone 5s in the device’s debut weekend, shattering a record set by the previous model.

Samsung, the Suwon, South Korea-based maker of Galaxy smartphones, ended Nokia’s 14-year reign as the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones this year, according to shipment estimates by industry researchers including Strategy Analytics.

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