India set for significant growth in smartphone penetration

India is expected to be the largest contributor to global smartphone unit growth this year, according to a new report, which also notes that 58 per cent of smartphones sold in the second quarter of 2015 were 4G-enabled.

The latest global smartphone sales data from GfK predicts 4G smartphone penetration will continue to rise at the expense of 3G, which is currently at 38 per cent of smartphone units and predicted to decline by another percentage point by the fourth quarter.

India will be the major contributor to this growth of 4G, said Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting at GfK.

"The main reason behind this is the currently low smartphone penetration in the market together with a significant intensification of the competition amongst the smartphone vendors, which will drive ASP erosion allowing more affordable devices in the market," he said.

Developing Telecoms reported last week market leader Bharti Airtel was extending its 4G coverage to a further 296 urban areas in India over the next month, while Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are also set to roll out 4G services by the beginning of next year.

It is not just in India where growth is evident, however. GfK says 4G smartphone unit share has more than doubled over the last year, reaching 58 per cent compared to 26 per cent last year. China is also driving this growth.

Global smartphone sales value is up by more than eight per cent year-on-year, and unit sales are up by six per cent.

Smartphones with large screens are also increasingly in evidence, increasing to 48 per cent in the second quarter up five per cent from the first. China has the highest regional share of smartphones with large screens, at 63 per cent.

"The first half of the year has seen macro events providing headwinds to topline demand in regions like C&E. Europe, LATAM and China," Walsh said.

"However, the underlying trend of consumers optimising their digital consumption by screen size, within affordability constraints, continues in all regions. This trend can be seen from TVs down to smartphones. In smartphones, it manifests in trends like price point polarization in the US, the rapid screen-size increases in emerging markets and phablet market development. These trends are forecast to continue to the end of year but we see new inflection points and market drivers for 2016."

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