India will lead the world in smartphone adoption with a net addition of 350 million connections in 2016-20, says a GSM Association report released here.
"India will lead the growth with around 350 million net smartphone additions," GSMA Intelligence Senior Analyst Gu Zhang said here.
"The developing world is set to add 1.6 billion smartphone connections between now and 2020. Led by India, China and Indonesia, smartphone adoption across developing markets will increase from an average of 47 per cent in 2016 to 62 per cent four years later," Zhang said.
Smartphones accounted for 51 per cent of mobile connections at the end of 2016, with smartphone penetration greater than that of basic and feature phone in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa. In the developed world, smartphone penetration was 65 per cent at the end of 2016.
"At 65 per cent in 2016, the developed world has reached a mature level of smartphone adoption. Assuming that there will continue to be some residual demand for basic and feature phones as well as data-only devices, we expect only incremental smartphone growth in this region from 2018," Zhang said.
With increased smartphone adoption and as Internet-based messaging takes hold in developing markets in coming years, operators in the region will therefore face a similar or potentially greater threat to their voice and SMS revenues as those in the developed world.
"To mitigate against this threat, operators in developing countries must look to offer smartphone content that is both accessible and relevant to local consumers and revenue-generating," Zhang said.
She added that according to the survey, the average frequency at which smartphone owners in the developing world access digital services such as online shopping, government services or mobile banking is around half that of the developed world.
"By focusing on the development of a smartphone ecosystem combined with a data-centric pricing strategy, operators can stimulate mobile data usage and generate sustainable revenues from their early investments in mobile broadband infrastructure," Zhang said.