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MEF recently published the 6th Global Smartphone User Survey. MEF CEO, Dario Betti hosted a webinar session to highlight some of his main takeaways from the report. Check out the video from the briefing and Dario’s top 10 key things to understand about smartphone users in 2020:

The Smartphone is the single most common accessory owned globally

58% of the adult world population would have one (Smartphones are more commonly owned than radios, TVs or the humble toothbrush)

The smartphone is emblem of the young

94% of 16- 24 have got one. The Smartphone is the defining symbol of the Millennial Generation; it is a true requirement for young people – without it wold be difficult to be communicating, working and entertaining themselves.

A digital divide is emerging

Among more mature users (45+ year old) penetration drops dramatically to 18.6% of the adult population. Older women are particularly affected. This is not just an ethical question: it is a potential cost to keep less efficient service delivery platform for government and for businesses.

Ultimately it is also a loss in terms of industrial policy: the smartphone experience is key to the next stage of digital services – without them a large part of the population will not be able to consume or produce new smart services.

Non-Smartphone users are not poor, nor mostly in the middle-income countries

In developing economies smartphones are must-haves, instead it is the more advanced economies that have bigger older populations with good existing services and fixed Internet access. The limiting factor in smartphone take up is old habits and a good availability of ‘analogue’ services that makes older users in countries such as Japan, Germany and France less inclined to embrace the Smartphone Economy.

Content is the biggest digital service

Video, music and content in general are used by 54% of the smartphone users – 31% of the world adult population is using a smartphone for entertainment. There is no more growth since 2018, smartphone content might be reaching maturity.

Financial Services are the biggest growth driver

Mobile banking is now the second most used digital service (48%) and mobile digital payments are now used by 37% of smartphone users. Both shows the highest growth at +7% and +5% respectively

China is the most advance mobile market

China is consistently at the top in terms of usage of new smartphone services.

The majority of smartphones have been produced by one of two companies

The device market is dominated by Apple with 30% in terms of handsets in use (that is not handset sold in a year). Samsung follows at 25%.

The highest level of service usage is seen in brands popular in middle income economy

Where the smartphone is often substituting fixed services, so Motorola, Oppo and Xiami drive the ranking of devices with highest digital service usage.

Users are afraid in the Smartphone World

77% have had some experience some form of financial harm from personal data mis-use.

Dario Betti



MEF’s 6th Global Smartphone User Survey

MEF’s 6th Global Smarpthone User Survey is based on 6500 interviews across 10 countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, UK, USA.

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