Ina Fried

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The Mobile Phone Market Just Officially Became the Smartphone Market

Already accounting for the bulk of mobile-phone sales in the U.S., smartphones accounted for 55 percent of all new cellphone subscriptions globally, up from just 40 percent a year ago, according to a new report from Ericsson.


iStockphoto | aluxum

Globally, mobile broadband subscriptions (those on 3G and 4G networks) are expected to reach two billion this year, and more than quadruple again by 2019.

High-speed LTE connections, still just in their infancy globally, grew by 25 million subscribers in the third quarter, bringing the estimated worldwide total to 150 million. The number of LTE subscribers is seen hitting 2.6 billion by the end of 2019, with 85 percent of subscribers in North America having LTE capability.

The number of mobile subscriptions is growing globally, but for different reasons.

“In Asia Pacific, this is driven by new subscribers,” Ericsson said in a report being released on Monday. In more mature markets, such as North America and Western Europe, the growth is limited, and comes from the increasing number of subscriptions per individual — for example, adding a tablet.

Data use is, of course, exploding, too. Third-quarter use totaled roughly 1,800 petabytes of data, up 80 percent from a year earlier. Ericsson sees that growing another tenfold by 2019.

Also of note, phones are projected to consume more mobile data this year than PCs, tablets and other devices — the first year that has happened. Video accounts for about 35 percent of mobile-data use globally, a figure that Ericsson sees going to more than 50 percent by 2019.

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