Nearly two weeks after the social networking behemoth Facebook announced that it had topped one billion users, a new US study released on Wednesday says there are over one billion smartphone users worldwide, with Apple being credited with catalyzing industry growth.
According to the report by the US research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics, the number of smartphone users passed the 1 billion mark during the third quarter of 2012.
“It has taken 16 years for the smartphone industry to reach this historic milestone,” said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. “But we forecast the next billion to be achieved in less than three years, by 2015.”
The Nokia Communicator, introduced in 1996, was the world’s first modern smartphone, but demand grew exponentially for the devices after Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, which “revolutionized smartphone design,” Mawston said.
Apple’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 5, sold over 5 million devices in just three days after it was launched on September 21. While these numbers are impressive, Strategy Analytics estimates that one out of every seven people throughout the world owns a smartphone and that the device’s “penetration is still relatively low,” said Mawston.
“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,” Mawston said.