The Mobile Phone Market – Key Trends For 2013


Around 88 percent of adults living in the USA owned a mobile phone in March 2012, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. At first glance, this suggests that the US mobile phone market is saturated. However, this is far from the case, partly because smartphone ownership and Internet access from mobile phones are both expected to continue to grow. Here is a summary of the main forecast trends in the mobile phone market in 2013 and beyond.

Smartphone ownership will continue to increase in 2013

There is no doubt that smartphone ownership will continue to increase in the USA in 2013, as consumers upgrade their existing mobile phones. According to the research company, Nielsen, 55.5 per cent of all US mobile phone subscribers owned a smartphone in July 2012, compared with 41 per cent a year earlier.

Nielsen discovered that the greatest growth in smartphone ownership over the year was amongst teenagers aged between 13 and 17, with 58 percent of people in this age group owning a smartphone in July 2012, compared with 36 percent in July 2011. Overall, ownership of smartphones was highest amongst consumers aged between 25 and 34, with 74 percent of people in this age group owning smartphones in July 2012.

These figures indicate that there is still room for growth in sales of smartphones to young adults, as well as considerable scope for sales of smartphones to people aged 35 and over.

eMarketer, a data analysis company, forecasts that the number of smartphone owners will continue to increase during 2013 to reach a total of 137.5 million at the end of the year. By the end of 2016, the number of smart phone users is predicted to reach 192.4 million.

The IT research and consulting company, Gartner, Inc., forecasts that smartphones will account for more than 80 percent of all mobile phone sales in mature markets worldwide by 2015.

The Internet will be accessed more frequently with mobile devices than PCs in 2013

According to Gartner, Inc., the Internet will be accessed more frequently by mobile devices than by PCs on a worldwide basis for the first time in 2013. This will fuel demand for a wide range of mobile phone applications (apps) which enable consumers to socialize, play games, shop, and carry out many other tasks and activities whilst they are on the move.

The apps market will continue to grow

According to a Nielsen study released in May 2012, photography, travel and finance apps for mobile phones showed the highest levels of year-on-year growth in the USA. Compared with 84 per cent growth overall in the use of mobile phone apps, the use of photography apps grew by 123 percent, while travel apps usage increased by 116 percent and the use of finance apps by 105 percent.

These figures, coupled with the expected increase in smartphone ownership and usage, indicate that strong growth in all apps for mobile phones will continue in 2013. In particular, travel-related apps could continue to experience growth as people are more likely to use them from their mobile phones whilst they are on the move.

The future is bright for the mobile phone market. Higher sales of smartphones will lead to more frequent Internet access from mobile phones. This in turn will lead to increased demand for apps of all kinds. At some point in the future, demand will level off but this is not expected to happen in the next few years.

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Laura actually owns two mobiles – one for work and one for personal use.  She often uses the 3G network to browse the web and is excited about the future.

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