iPhone Drives Smartphone Users Up Over 1 Billion

The smartphone market hit a new milestone in the third quarter of 2012 when the total number of users worldwide topped one billion. That growth was spurred by Apple's iPhone, according to Strategy Analytics, and will help the market grow to over 2 billion users by 2015.

Smartphones top 1 billion and iPhone is a big part of that"We estimate 1 in 7 of the world's population owned a smartphone in the third quarter of 2012," the research firm said. The total number of smartphone owners is estimated at 1.038 billion, up from 708 million during the same quarter last year.

Along with Apple's iPhone, Google's Android makes up a significant portion of the smartphone market. BlackBerry and Symbian, however, are quickly losing marketshare.

"Looking forward to 2017, Android and Apple iOS will remain the dominant smartphone platforms, but we forecast Microsoft to consistently gain installed base share as the platform matures and some fatigue sets in with the incumbent platform leaders," said Strategy Analytics analyst Scott Bicheno.

Despite the high number of smartphone users, the overall market is still considered to be small. With smartphone use gaining popularity, that's good news for companies than make the phones, and especially Apple thanks to the popularity of the iPhone.

"Most of the world does not yet own a smartphone and there remains huge scope for future growth, particularly in emerging markets such as China, India and Africa," the analyst team said.

Assuming the Strategy Analytics projections are correct, hitting the two billion user mark will come much faster. "The first billion smartphones in use worldwide took 16 years to reach, but we forecast the next billion to be achieved in less than three years, by 2015," they said.