Experts predict the majority of smartphones purchased in 2020 will cost less than $100. Analyst firm Gartner says about 78 percent of global smartphone sales will come from developing countries in 2018, therefore aiding the possibility of smartphones costing less than “one bill” in the next few years.
Vendors have starting latching on to this trend via initiatives such as Google’s Android One. The company has also formed a partnership with Indian handset brands, like Karbonn, in order to create sub-$100 devices using Android reference designs.
Microsoft is trying to get Windows Phone 8 devices closer to the $100 price, and is also offering free versions of Windows to device manufacturers in emerging markets. Mozilla is working on their “ultra-budget” Firefox OS smartphones, while Samsung is tinkering with the launch of Tizen, a line of low-cost smartphones. Cyanogen Inc. has jumped on the bandwagon as well, having distributed its Android ROM on Micromax's new Yu line of smartphones for Indian consumers. India has become the third-largest smartphone market behind China and the United States as of this year’s third quarter, and Strategy Analytics predicts the country’s economic growth will be due to lower-priced smartphones.
China has emerged as the leading LTE handset market in the world, eclipsing the U.S. for the first time in regards to “long-term evolution.”
Network equipment vendor Ericsson foresees considerable smartphone growth by 2020, predicting smartphone subscriptions will reach the 6.1 billion mark—this is compared to today’s 2.7 billion. Smartphone subscriptions are also expected to surpass basic phone subscriptions as of 2016.
As user base in developing markets that want a smartphone and data package continues to grow, Gartner believes high-end shipments to these markets will slow down, since users are likely seeing little value in features offered.
Increases in subsidies and sponsorships are also predicted, including programs similar to those offered by Opera, a company that provides carriers the opportunity to sell targeted advertising to end-users in exchange for mobile data.
The combination of smartphone growth in developing countries and saturation in developed countries has Gartner estimating that the tablet or smartphone will be the go-to device for all online activities by 2018.
"The use pattern that has emerged for nearly all consumers, based on device accessibility, is the smartphone first as a device that is carried when mobile, followed by the tablet that is used for longer sessions, with the PC increasingly reserved for more-complex tasks," Van Baker, Gartner research vice president, said in a statement.
“This behavior will adapt to incorporate wearables as they become widely available for users,” he added. “As voice, gesture and other modalities grow in popularity with consumers, and as content consumption tasks outweigh content creation tasks, this will further move users away from the PC.”
Versatility, easy-of-use, and cost will all factor into the growing mobile market in the next 5 years.