Qualcomm, Telefónica partner to drive 3G, smartphone adoption in Latin America


Qualcomm and Telefónica announced an agreement focused on fostering the adoption of 3G and smartphones throughout Latin America. Under terms of the agreement, both companies will collaborate in an effort to bring a variety of 3G devices to the region, including smartphones enabled by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor.

According to Wireless Intelligence, Latin America currently has about 90 million 3G connections, which represents approximately 15% of the total mobile connections in the region. This percentage is expected to increase. Pyramid Research found that smartphone sales as percentage of total sales will break the 20% barrier in 2012, boosted by smartphone adoption growth in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile.

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In the near future, IDC believes that smartphone shipments to emerging markets will drive growth in the worldwide smartphone market. However, before that can happen, there are challenges to overcome, including the devices’ high cost, which represents a significant investment for consumers in many countries.

Smartphone adoption, noted consulting firm Pyramid Research, will be driven by increased vendor competition, fueled by Chinese manufacturers that offer low-cost Android phones and operators trying to increase their smartphone base to increase data revenue.

In a statement, Rafael Steinhauser, Qualcomm SVP and president of Qualcomm Latin America, emphasized that the company is thrilled to be working with Telefónica to accelerate the adoption of smartphones in the region. He said that their collaboration is a great opportunity to help make wireless broadband access, services and applications more widely available, providing connectivity to regions that would otherwise have no access.

Steinhauser believes that a large segment of the population will experience the Internet for the first time through a smartphone.

Elena Gil Lizasoain, director of business development at Telefónica Latin America, added that 3G adoption in the region increases the value of mobile services for the population as well as for Telefónica.

Worldwide, the smartphone market grew 54.7% in the fourth quarter of 2011. Vendors shipped 157.8 million units in during the final three months of 2011 compared to 102 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to IDC.

The consultant firm forecasts worldwide total smartphone shipments will reach 659.8 million units in 2012, up 33.5% from the 494.2 million units shipped in 2011. From there, smartphone shipments will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.6% until 2016. IDC believes the Android operating system will maintain its overall leadership position throughout the forecast period, but the positions of competitors BlackBerry, Apple’s iOS and Windows Phone will shift each year.

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