Although more than 50 percent of all U.S. mobile users now own smartphones, smartphones still have a lot of growth ahead of them in emerging markets, according to a new report from research firm Nielsen.
According to the report, China is the only country among the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) where smartphones are predominant. According to the firm, two-thirds of China's mobile users owned smartphones as of the first half of 2012.
However, feature phones--which Nielsen defines as devices with no touchscreen, Qwerty keyboard or operating system--are owned by 80 percent of mobile subscribers in India and 51 percent of subscribers in Russia. In Brazil, the picture is more mixed, with 44 percent of subscribers using feature phones, 36 percent using smartphones and 21 percent owning multimedia phones (which have a touchscreen and/or Qwerty keyboard, but no operating system).
Overall, Nielsen thinks there is still room for smartphone growth in emerging markets, which fits with projections that more low-cost smartphones will penetrate those countries in the years ahead. The findings also fit with projections from IHS iSuppli, which reported that the number of low-end smartphones shipped will jump from around 206 million in 2012 to 302 million in 2013 and up to 559 million in 2016.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook said earlier this month that he thinks China will eventually surpass the United States as Apple's largest market. Many analysts think China overtook the United States as the world's largest smartphone market last year.
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