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One billion smartphones milestone passed in Q3: research firm

Research suggests the smartphone market has hit the one-billion mark during the third quarter, but smartphone penetration remains low while emerging and developing markets are pushing the growth.
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Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor on

Research firm Strategy Analytics has boldly stated that the smartphone market has burgeoned enough in the past two years to reach the 1 billion milestone mark during the current third quarter.  

"Hello? I'm on a cellular telephone. Can you hear me?"

It has taken more than 15 years to reach the 1 billion mark since the first "branded" smartphone arrived on the market in form of the Ericsson GS88 "Penelope" -- but the research firm believes the next billion smartphone mark may be passed in just three year's time from now.

According to previous figures, Strategy Analytics said there were 708 million smartphones on the global market during Q3 2011, but saw a massive rise to 959 million in Q2 2012. In the current quarter, the research firm believes that figure could rise to 1 billion (or 1.038 billion to be absolutely spot on).

Why? Strategy Analytics believes the cost of smartphones is going down, but also the availability and ongoing efforts to improve and develop infrastructure. Streamlining smartphones as the default device over feature phones (or "dumbphones") is another reason as manufacturers continue to phase out the cheaper-to-make devices in favor of the 'standard' iPhone or Android device. 

While in a simplistic view: 1 billion smartphones roughly equates to one-in-seven people around the world, but there are still major gaps in the market.

There are key areas of smartphone use: Western Europe with a population of 350 million, the U.S. with a population of 310 million, but the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are powering the main sector of growth as these once "emerging" markets are becoming mature "developing" nations -- a considerable step up from even a year ago.

Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston noted that smartphone penetration remains low, however: "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 first billion smartphones in use worldwide took 16 years to reach, but we forecast the next billion to be achieved in less than three years, by 2015."

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