The Smartphone Surge: It’s Not Going Anywhere

The mobile market has never been more, well, mobile. With emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India, and China stepping onto the stage, smartphone sales continue to accelerate with no sign of slowing.

By June, smartphone shipments had risen 23% from last year, hitting an all-time high of nearly 300 million units—a number that’s expected to rise another 13% by the third quarter, according to IDC and TrendForce.

Demand is off the charts

The research firms say the spike is due in part to increased demand for mobile computing and an abundance of low-cost smartphones. If history’s to show, this is a trend that won’t be forgotten. Since 2012, the number of worldwide smartphone users has skyrocketed, with an estimated 75% increase to close out 2014.

IDC forecasts Android maintaining the top spot through 2018. With price points that hit on emerging markets, where the focus is affordability, the versatile and cost-effective devices are likely to keep hogging the spotlight.

Apple is expected to hold down second place with a continued focus on the high-end consumer. Next month’s release of the iPhone 6 only echoes that business model, with an enhanced design that hones in on camera quality and screen size: two features Android arguably had in the bag with the sleek Samsung Galaxy series. Though this strategy has generally proven to stall growth in less affluent markets, the September debut may drive sales in emerging markets where Apple has previously been an underdog.

Increased iPhone sales could in turn affect the Samsung market share, which has already seen a 7% decrease this quarter compared to last year, taking a hit from rising competition like Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Coolpad and ZTE—all expected to see over 30 million shipments by the end of the 2014. Trailing the top spots are Windows and Blackberry—the former showing signs of growth potential, but not enough to become a viable contender anytime soon.

What does this mean?

In short, a mobile-friendly world. As more and more consumers join the smartphone community, there’s a heightening expectation that businesses will conform—shifting resources to meet the needs of mobile users. It’s sink or swim, but we’re throwing out a raft, and now is the best time to hop on the app craze.