The number of smartphone users in SA

 ·30 May 2014
South Africa mobile

A new report puts South Africa’s smartphone users at 20 million, showing growth of 32% in 2013.

The report, compiled by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), warns that smartphone growth in the country will slow to 27% in 2014.

The report, delivered by Mary Meeker, an American venture capitalist and former Wall Street securities analyst, said that SA’s internet penetration was at 20 million in 2013, having grown 20%.

Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, believes that the data is flawed for South Africa, and is based on well-known flawed data which uses the adult population as the base.

He said that it inflates the numbers by as much as 50%.

MTN recently noted that the number of  smartphones on its network in SA increased by 32.6% to 7.3 million, while Vodacom said that its has 7.3 million smartphones active on its network in SA.

While South Africa’s third operator Cell C put its total subscriber base beyond 16 million, it is unclear how many of its subscribers use a smartphone.

According to market research firm GfK, in March 2014, more smartphones were sold in South Africa than feature phones for the first time ever.

From an internet perspective, in July, research conducted by the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) and Echo Consultancy estimated total internet population in South Africa in 2013 to be almost 14 million users.

The report found that global internet user growth has slowed to 9% in 2013, against 11% in 2012, while smartphone growth is still strong but slowing.

The total internet population reached 2.6 billion in 2013, KPCB said.

For mobile, globally, the report said that only 30% of the world’s 5.2 billion mobile users comprised of smartphones, KPCB said.

Meker said that mobile data traffic, however, is accelerating up 81% year-over-year – due largely to video, where mobile is now 22% of consumption.

KPCB also highlighted separate research which found that South Africans spend more time on their smartphones than they do on their laptops, or watching TV.

The research, conducted by Milward Brown, found that South African’s used their smartphones for 127 minutes per day on average, whilst spending 126 minutes on their laptops/PCs. TV watching accounted for 115 minutes, with tablets eating up 63 minutes per day, on average.

Globally, 78% of world has TV, versus 73% who own a mobile phone, and 22% with a  smartphone. 11% own a laptop, 10% a desktop, and 6% have a tablet.

More on South African telecoms

SA Internet population close to 14 million

3 billion Internet users in 2014

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