Just how often—and for what purposes—are consumers reaching for and using the world’s most ubiquitous digital device, the smartphone? In its annual global survey, Deloitte asked 44,150 consumers across 28 countries to detail their smartphone usage.
In most developed countries, about 90 percent of adults own a smartphone, and the vast majority use their device daily. As the devices have become mainstream, the market is reaching maturity, with adoption levels nearing a plateau. But at the same time, consumers are expanding their usage habits, driving a robust market for smartphone upgrades, apps and accessories.
How are consumers using all those smartphones? This year’s survey found five key trends:
The smartphone is integral to daily life. Smartphones are embedded in our daily routines—and it’s not just apps that are fueling the usage. Smartphones play music through connected speakers, collect and display fitness data, relay images from security cameras, and configure smart homes. Ongoing investment in ancillary devices is likely to further embed smartphones and other mobile devices in our lives.
The apps and accessories market is huge—and growing fast. Even as smartphone sales level off, the broader smartphone economy—sales of hardware, content, and services—is booming. We expect such “smartphone multiplier” sales to drive US$459 billion in revenue in 2020 alone, making the combined market worth over US$900 billion. Two of the biggest drivers in the multiplier category are wireless headphones and wireless charging—both in their relative infancy and poised for explosive growth.
Users don’t seem worried about controlling usage. As smartphones have become more integral to modern lifestyles, a great deal of research has focused on how, when, and why people use them. Earlier surveys reveal that most reach for their phones within half an hour of waking. And yes, 48 percent of our respondents say they overuse their phones. Yet these same people appear to care little about controlling their usage: Despite the growing range of tools for managing excessive smartphone use, only 6 percent reported using, for instance, screen time trackers.
Smartphones are popular and portable entertainment devices. Mobile phones and games have always made a compelling pair. In this year’s survey, 15 percent of respondents who play games said that they play as soon as they wake up; a quarter play while commuting and 65 percent while relaxing at home. Men and women both report playing games on their smartphones, but women are much more likely to prefer casual games, while men prefer sports titles and racing games.
Consumers are sharing a lot of data, regardless of privacy concerns. Despite ongoing data privacy breaches and the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Deloitte research shows the volume and range of the data consumers share has only grown in most countries. This may be due in part to more devices sharing data with third parties. Regardless, consumers’ scrutiny of the terms and conditions associated with apps and devices remains scant—about 80 percent of adults rarely, if ever, read them.
The bottom line: Smartphones are in the hands of almost every adult in developed countries—and nearly there in developing countries. People can’t seem to get enough of smartphone’s convenience, connectedness and entertainment. Thus, the prospects for smartphone upgrades and hardware and accessories sales remain sunny.
About the survey
The Deloitte mobile consumer survey is a multi-country survey that measures consumer preferences and habits around mobile products and services. The 2019 survey included more than 44,000 respondents across 28 geographies. Explore the survey results from specific countries here.
Craig Wigginton, Deloitte & Touche LLP, leads the Telecommunications industry in the US, globally, and for the Americas. With more than 28 years of experience, he serves as a key advisor to senior executives. In his current industry roles he leads a cross functional practice and has unique insights into the critical issues affecting our clients as well as the mobile ecosystem as a whole. He speaks at conferences worldwide and leads Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey.