Most Australians aged between 15 and 65 will own a smartphone by 2018, according to Frost & Sullivan research.
In its latest report, Australian Mobile Device Usage Trends 2013, the research firm estimated that 73 per cent of people in this age bracket currently have smartphones, a figure that will reach 93 per cent over the next five years.
By 2018, it is likely that virtually all mobile phones will have built-in smartphone functions, the research firm said.
Meanwhile, growth in tablet computers will outpace smartphones, rising from nearly 50 per cent in 2013 to 80 per cent in 2018.
Nearly half of all smartphone users say that regularly engaging with mobile media is the main way they utilise their smartphone, said Phil Harpur, senior research manager, Australia & New Zealand at Frost & Sullivan.
“As smartphone functionality continues to improve with higher resolutions and larger screens, faster internet access via 4G networks and higher data downloads, this percentage will increase significantly over the next few years,” said Harpur.
Voice functions will become less important as other communication options such as instant chat apps, become more accessible and popular than standard SMS, he said.
More than 50 per cent of smartphone users are watching user-generated video on sites like YouTube and this is expected to grow over the next few years as data caps increase, screens get larger and faster wireless networks become available.
Apple’s smartphone share to drop
Frost & Sullivan believes Apple’s market share of smartphones will drop over the next few years and by 2017, will be less than 30 per cent of the total market.
The Android operating system – which is being used by an increasing number of vendors including Samsung, HTC, ARM and Motorola – has overtaken the Apple iOS as the most popular smartphone operating platform.
Apple’s share of the tablet market has also dropped from 69 per cent to 60 per cent over the last 12 months and it expected to fall “significantly lower over the next few years,” the researcher said.
Another research firm, Forrester, said on Tuesday that there will be 905 million tablet users by 2017, up from 15 million users in 2010.
This growth will “catapult the tablet from merely a popular mass market device to a highly visible mainstay device among consumers and businesses in developed nations,” said Forrester analyst J.P Gownder.