Market Forecast: Mobile Devices to Outnumber People by 2017

According to CCS Insight’s new market forecast, more than 6.6 billion mobile phones will be in use worldwide by the end of 2017, and two-thirds of them are expected to be smartphones. Teamed with the growing adoption of tablets, by 2017 mobile devices are projected to outnumber people on the planet for the first time. Additionally, CCS predicts sales of 4G devices to grow tenfold between 2012 and 2017, to 650 million units.

“In the first three months of 2013, smartphone shipments exceeded those of non-smartphones for the first time ever,” notes the CCS press release. “Sales of smartphones have been helped by new, cheaper devices, especially, but not only, in emerging markets. The mobile and media analyst firm expects 1.86 billion mobile phones to be shipped in 2013, of which 53 percent will be smartphones.”

Despite strong growth, the report suggests that dominant operating systems such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android will face challenges.

“Having defined the modern smartphone era, Apple is struggling to keep up with overall smartphone market growth, particularly as that growth shifts toward emerging markets. Apple will have to choose between sustaining its profit margin and holding onto market share,” notes Marina Koytcheva, director of forecasting at CCS Insight.

“Android on the other hand is highly dependent on Samsung,” adds Koytcheva. “As profit margins are squeezed Google will need to ensure Android remains a viable choice for other phone-makers.”

Koytcheva also notes continued competition in the mobile space: “Microsoft desperately needs to make an impact in smartphones as the PC market shows no sign of leaving the doldrums. Similarly, BlackBerry seems determined to remain a relevant competitor. And let’s not forget new upstarts like Tizen, Firefox OS, Sailfish OS, Baidu Yi and Aliyun, which are all hustling to grab a share of this lucrative market.”