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Emerging markets, including Latin America, are expected to take the lead in the global sales mix of smartphones in 2014, accounting for 70% of all units sold in the year, according to GFK's Digital World research presented by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) during its CES event in Las Vegas.
In 2011, developed markets accounted for 52% of global smartphone sales, while emerging markets were responsible for 48%.
Boosted by the mass adoption of lower-priced smartphones, the developing markets are now seeing an increase in their sales mix to 70% this year, whereas developed markets will reduce their participation to 30%.
According to GFK, a reflection of that is that the average global sales price (ASP) of smartphones is seen dropping to US$297 in 2014, down from US$345 in 2013.
A similar phenomenon is seen in the case of tablets, with cheaper devices boosting penetration in developing regions.
In 2012, emerging markets generated 29% of all tablet sales, while North America and "other developed markets" accounted for 40% and 31% respectively.
Two years later, the sales mix is expected to shift to 42% in emerging markets, 33% in North America and 25% in other developed markets.
The result of the predominance of cheaper devices is that the global spending forecasts for smartphones and tablets are expected to increase 6% and 9% this year respectively, compared to larger estimated growth of 27% and 30% for 2013.
Still, smartphones and tablets are forecast to increase their share in the global sales mix of consumer electronics to about 40% this year, which also includes LCD TVs, digital cameras, desktop PCs and feature phones, among others.