By 2020 Smartphones & Video Will Rule The Internet [Study]

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The number of smartphone subscriptions will surpass those of basic phones as early as next year, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report, released last month. That number is expected to more than double by 2020, from 2.6 billion to 6.1 billion. Many parties stand to win from this growth, but one particular faction will be swimming in cash – the video streaming market.

Emerging markets

Ericsson reports that most mobile broadband devices today are smartphones, and nothing will buck the trend in the foreseeable future. Confirming the findings of similar mobility studies from recent years, the whitepaper notes that consumers in developing markets usually first experience the internet on a smartphone. Examples include Africa, India, and several countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) area. The reasons are diverse, but the main culprit is limited access to fixed broadband.

A key driver in the 2020 forecast is 5G connectivity, expected to be commercially available around that time. Ericsson projects that the subscription uptake will be faster than for 4G. New use cases, such as machine-type communication (M2M) will propel 5G to mainstream status.

Videos ‘R Us

Here’s where it gets interesting. Because of smartphones, mobile video dominates traffic growth by a considerable margin. Already much of the mobile video traffic today is YouTube. However, mobile video is forecast to balloon by 55 percent annually through 2020, when it will account for around 60 percent of all mobile data traffic, according to Ericsson report (boldface emphasis mine). Music streaming is also gaining more ground every year.

This will severely affect the share of traffic generated by traditional web browsing, estimated to shrink from the already-low 10 percent in 2014 to just 5 percent by 2020. The reason? “There’s an app for that.”

“Consumer preferences are shifting towards more video and app-based mobile use relative to web browsing.The emergence of new applications can shift the relative volumes of different types of traffic, but the proliferation of specific devices will also affect the traffic mix – for example, tablets are associated with a much higher share of online video traffic than smartphones,” reports Ericsson.

More juicy facts and projections for the future in the original report, right here.

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