AFTER five years of blistering growth, sales of high-end smartphones have hit a plateau and the entire telecommunications industry is buckling up for a bumpier ride as growth shifts to emerging markets, mainly in
While carrier subsidies have helped drive sales of high-end devices in mature markets, the next growth chapter will be in emerging markets where cost-conscious users demand cheaper gadgets and cheaper access to less lucrative services.
That shift is a challenge to profit margins at Apple and
Apple's revenues in greater
Samsung has indicated its quarterly operating profit will fall short of estimates as demand for high-end smartphones slows.
Neither company faces any kind of crisis. But, industry experts say, many users in mature markets who want a smartphone already have one. European smartphone shipments grew 12 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the slowest growth since technology research firm IDC started tracking the mobile devices market in 2004.
This year, the number of mobile internet users in the developing world will overtake those in the developed world for the first time - growing 27 times since 2007, compared with the developed world's fourfold growth, according to estimates from the
"The centre of gravity in the mobile ecosystem is likely to shift from the US and western
Many of the new mobile users will be in
The catch: much of this growth would come from users of devices that are up to 10 times cheaper than those in the developed world.
Cheaper components, easy and fast access to the latest versions of
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