Although smartphones priced less than $150 USD made up a very small fraction of the 302 million smartphones shipped worldwide in 2010, Juniper Research predicts that in 2016, smartphones in this price range will constitute almost one-third of the 1 billion smartphones shipped. This also means the total number of global smartphones sold worldwide will more than triple in the next five years.
Most Smartphones Will Be Mid-Price
Data from “The Smartphone Opportunity” indicates the majority of smartphones sold worldwide in 2016 will cost $151-$399, with the smallest share costing $400 and up. Although Juniper expects less expensive smartphones to exponentially grow in popularity, the white paper advises extremely few will cost anywhere near as low as the “ultra-low-cost handset” category of $26 or less.
3 Major Tech Trends on Horizon
Juniper expects three major developing technology trends to have a significant impact on the evolution of smartphones in the next five years: Near Field Communication (NFC), 3-D, and biometrics. Following are brief synopses of each technology trend.
NFC Simplifies Smartphone Interaction
NFC enables simplified transactions, data exchange and connections with a touch. Smartphones enabled with NFC chips are expected to become “digital wallet” payment devices and/or keys, which should be additional selling points for the technology.
3-D Adds New Dimension
While 3-D-enabled smartphones are already starting to launch in a number of markets, Juniper predicts an increasing number of vendors will seek to add 3-D capabilities to help their products stand out in a crowded market. However, Juniper cautions several factors, including widespread embrace of other 3-D devices to create a general 3-D consumer culture, as well as adoption of 3-D technology by mobile game developers, will have a major impact on the development of 3-D smartphones.
Biometrics are methods for recognizing specific individuals based on one or more physical/behavioral traits. A key usage of biometrics for smartphones will likely be access control. Some smartphones with biometric security features based on attributes such as owner fingerprint have already been released, and Juniper says biometrics could also be integrated into mobile financial applications for heightened security.
Pew: Smartphone Penetration High among Young US Adults
Smartphone penetration has reached more than half (52%) of 18-to-29-year-old US adults, according to a July 2011 study from the Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project. The study also reveals that 45% of 30-to-49-year-olds own smartphones, and this figure then drops by almost 50% to 24% among 50-to-64-year-olds. Overall, 35% of US adults own smartphones.