South Korea saw its smartphone industry double in value over the last 12 months to hit US$5.4 billion in value, spurred on by country's widespread availability of Internet access and growing demand for LTE-enabled devices.
GfK Korea released its study findings on Friday, stating that the country saw 11 million smartphones sold over the last 12 months--an increase of more than 400,000 units from the year before. The figure also represented an "immense" 129 percent jump in value and 55 percent growth in sales volume, it added.
With an average of 92,000 smartphones bought each month, smartphones currently account for 96 percent of South Korea's overall mobile phone sales value, and 85 percent in sales volume, the research firm noted.
Moongen Kwon, general manager of GfK Korea, said in the statement: "Last year, over four in five mobile phones purchased were smartphones, making us a nation with one of the fastest rates of adoption and highest level of penetration in the world."
The widespread availability of Internet connectivity was a major driving force behind the smartphone boom in South Korea as consumers have a "more compelling reason" to upgrade from basic feature phones to more advanced smartphones, he added.
Kwon also noted that the South Korea's smartphone industry will continue to evolve rapidly, pointing to how the launch of 4G, or long-term evolution (LTE), services and the expected completion of the nationwide LTE coverage by 2012 would gives users incentive to upgrade from 3G to LTE-enabled smartphones.
GfK Korea highlighted that consumer demand would also spur manufacturers to push out LTE smartphones in South Korea, noting that there are now some 49 LTE smartphone models available in the market, up from just two in September 2011. LTE-enabled handsets have seen consistent monthly growth in sales, making up 42 percent of all smartphone sales in January this year, as compared to 32 percent the month before, it added.