Smartphone sales are forecast to make up 58.3%, or 10mn units, of total mobile phone sales in Argentina in 2016, telecoms consultancy firm Pyramid Research analyst Juliana Gómez told BNamericas.
The analyst said that this year alone, 24% of total mobile phone sales in Argentina, or 3mn devices, will be smartphones, compared to 12.5% (1.5mn units) in 2010.
"The smartphone market in Argentina is experiencing very robust growth," she noted.
As regards a government decision to place barriers on imports, Gómez said the move is only partially protecting the industry. "There are many firms that assemble mobile phones and smartphones in Tierra del Fuego [province], but a very significant amount of components are imported," she said.
Argentina's government passed several laws in late 2009 to provide fiscal benefits to companies with manufacturing or assembling production in Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost province. The law was designed to boost production of ICT products in the region and was paired with a law imposing higher taxes on imported goods.
Research In Motion (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM), maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, is among the companies harnessing these benefits. RIM recently announced it would invest US$23mn to start manufacturing in Tierra del Fuego in a partnership with local wireless handset distributor Brightstar.
However, Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone sales in the country are being severely affected by import restrictions. While Apple sold 55,000 devices in 2010, it only imported 2,600 in the first quarter of this year. In March, the company stopped all iPhone imports due to non-automatic import licenses (LNAs) imposed by national authorities. The LNAs allow Argentina's government to slow down imports to defend local production.
Apple has said it is not considering manufacturing its products locally.