The number of smartphone users in the world is expected to reach a giant 6.1 billion by 2020

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Think smartphones are everywhere now? According to research carried out by network experts Ericsson, they’re only going to get more popular over the next five years. Its estimates show an enormous jump from the 2.6 billion smartphone users recorded in 2014 to 6.1 billion by 2020.

The 6.1 billion phones represents 70 percent of the global population, and Ericsson also estimates 90 percent of the populated globe will have high-speed mobile data coverage by 2020. What’s particularly interesting is where the majority of these new phones will be sold. Ericsson says 80 percent of the new smartphone owners will be located in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.

A graph puts it into perspective, showing Western Europe and North America gaining 140 million and 120 million new users respectively by 2020, but nearly 2 billion coming from Asia Pacific, and 750 million from the Middle East and Africa.

The report comes shortly after Google made a point of emphasizing the importance of developing markets during the keynote presentation at Google I/O. It has been pondering the problem of how to attract ‘the next billion’ users for a while, and Ericsson’s report validates the fact it need to look outside of North America and Europe to find them. With just 20-percent of the more than 3 billion new smartphone owners expected to be in these mature markets in the next five years, it’s no wonder Google is looking at ways to make getting online using a mobile device easier around the world.

However, that’s not to say North America and Europe are getting tired of mobile phones. Ericsson’s data shows smartphones will be responsible for 80-percent of the mobile data traffic used around the world — rather than tablets or other connected devices — and that North America and Europe will lead the way. Rather than getting tired of our smartphones, it looks like we’re going to use the ones we have even more.

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