STOCKHOLM: Demand for smartphones and tablets is due to rise rapidly around the world during the next five years, according to a study from Ericsson, the telecoms firm.

The company estimated that mobile penetration reached 82% worldwide in Q3 2011, with subscription numbers hitting 5.8bn. However, the actual number of users is smaller, at 3.9bn, as many people have more than one active account.

Of the 135m net additions made during this period, India and China delivered around 20m and 30m new subscriptions respectively, the analysis revealed.

Smartphones made up 30% of handset purchases in the third quarter, compared with around 20% for 2010 as a whole. However, these gadgets are responsible for just 10% of the global installed subscriber base at present, Ericsson said.

Looking ahead, it predicted there would be 8bn mobile subscriptions by 2016, aided by some 1.3bn additions from Asia Pacific alone, equivalent to 55% of the overall increase.

The number of tablet and mobile PC subscriptions should rise from 180m to 550m in this period, while smartphones witness an expansion from 810m to 2.6bn.

Mobile broadband subscriptions, which climbed by around 60% in Q3 2011 to reach 900m, are due to hit 5bn by 2016, as fixed-voice services lose out to mobile and voice-over-internet protocol alternatives.
Urbanisation should facilitate such trends, as by 2016 over 30% of the global population will live in metropolitan and urban areas. While these sites make up less than 1% of the total land area available, they will deliver 60% of mobile traffic.

"A high quantity of today's mobile data traffic is already being generated in metro areas. However, it is worth noting that by 2016 the amount of mobile data traffic is forecasted to be ten times that of 2011," the study said. 

Data sourced from Ericsson; additional content by Warc staff