The United States, United Kingdom, South Korea, Norway, Sweden and Australia Lead In Smartphone Penetration

According to new analysis from eMarketer, several countries reached a milestone in mobile usage last year. By the end of 2012, over half of mobile phone users in six countries had made the switch from feature phones to smartphones. eMarketer predicts 2013 and beyond will see “a domino effect hit regions around the world as smartphones become the norm in more places.”

In 2012, eMarketer estimates, six countries—South Korea, Norway, Sweden, Australia, the UK and the US—saw smartphone user penetration rates among mobile phone users rise above 50% for the first time. Meanwhile, eMarketer predicts the worldwide smartphone penetration rate among mobile users will remain just under 33% in 2013, and will approach 50% by 2017.

South Korea led the world last year in the share of mobile users who used a smartphone, at 60%. Australia, at 53%, was the only other country in Asia-Pacific to pass the halfway mark in 2012, with Japan set to follow in 2014.

In regional terms, only North America will boast average smartphone penetration rates above 50% in 2013 among mobile users, as Canada crosses the 50% mark this year. Western Europe as a whole will cross that boundary in 2014.

eMarketer evaluated more than 2,200 data points from more than 220 research sources, basing its predictions on an analysis of survey and traffic data from research firms and regulatory agencies, historical trends, company-specific data and country-specific demographic and socio-economic factors.

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