However, as ownership is nearing the 80%-90% mark, penetration has slowed down. The number of smartphone owners is forecast to grow by 7% in 2018, compared to 10% in 2017 and 14% in 2016.
The outlook is similar for tablets, with penetration globally estimated to be 18.7% in 2017, up from 17.8% in 2016. Overall, it seems that penetration is stabilizing around 20% in 2019.
The wider usage of mobile devices has led to an increased contact between brands and consumers, with branded content and additional social media engagement providing a greater range of brand experiences outside of traditional paid ads.
Vittorio Bonori, Zenith’s Global Brand President, said:
“Because the internet is now mobile, brands have the opportunity to use it to communicate to consumers during more of their lives – when they are shopping, socialising and travelling as well as when at their desk. By reaching consumers at the right occasions with tailored messages, brands can guide them through the consumer journey more effectively.”
Smartphone ownership continues to be led by Western Europe and APAC with the Netherlands leading penetration at 94%, followed by Hong Kong (92%) and Norway and Ireland at 91% each.
China is the country with the largest number of smartphone users at 1.3 billion, followed by India (530 million) and the US at 229 million.
Mobile devices are the main means of accessing the Internet and should account for 73% of time spent using the Internet next year, up from 70% in 2017.
Spain leads in terms of mobile Internet usage with 81% estimated Internet usage. It is followed by Italy (78%), China and the US (each at 77%) and India (73%).
Zenith also estimates that 53% of all Internet ad spend will allocated to mobile in 2017, increasing to 59% by 2018 and 62% in 2019. By 2019, mobile ad spend will total $156 billion and account for 26% of ad spend across all media.
“For most consumers and advertisers, the mobile internet is now the normal internet,” said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith’s Head of Forecasting and Director of Global Intelligence. “The ownership of mobile devices is beginning to saturate in some markets, but there’s plenty of room for further growth across the rest of the world.”