Smartphones were the fastest-growing handset category across Latin America, with sales of 31 million units sold and U.S. $6 billion in revenue, continuing the trend of the region’s increasing share of the global market, according to a report by consulting firm Pyramid Research. Worldwide, smartphone sales will climb to nearly $116 billion this year, the survey said.
In its report, “Operators and Vendors Aim Smartphones at the Mass Market,” the consulting firm said Latin America’s smartphone market grew 117% last year as handset sales grew 17%. Pyramid Research expects smartphone unit sales in the region to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 30% during the next five years, driven by operator efforts to increase data revenue, as well as by vendor competition, smartphone price decreases and customers’ growing need to stay connected. By 2016, the firm said, smartphone sales will account for about 46% of total handset sales in the region.
By comparison, in 2008, smartphones sales represented only 3% of handset sales in Latin America.
In the report, Pyramid Research noted that to increase data average revenue per user, operators are making efforts to increase their smartphone installed base — for example, by widening their smartphone offers with an increasing variety of plans and subsidies.
The consulting firm also noted that the prepaid data plans are helping operators to increase the smartphones’ addressable market. Pyramid Research explains that to take advantage of the full market, operators are developing prepaid data packages to give prepaid users the data experience and to attract them to postpaid data plans.
The big smartphone driver has been handset prices, according to the report, and today smartphones are becoming increasingly affordable for consumers, thanks mainly to Chinese manufacturers.