2017

Smartphones will reach saturation point in the U.S. by 2017, and by that time two-thirds of all Americans will own an iPhone – the conclusions Asymco’s Horace Dediu reaches through a series of calculations.

Dediu bases his calculation on three factors. First, that the rate of growth seen in the smartphone market so far will continue at the same pace. Second, saturation point for smartphones will be 90 percent (no technology ever achieves 100 percent). Third, that Apple’s market share will remain roughly constant, Dediu pointing out that iPhone growth has pretty much exactly mirrored the smartphone market as a whole … 

Or, in rather more detailed terms:

One can simply draw a line extending the existing red segment above and read the F/(1-F) figure at any point in time. Solving for F results in a measure of penetration and hence number of users (if population is known.)

An alternative is to use the following formula derived from the linear interpolation of the two measured market shares. iPhone market share is y/(1+y) where y=0.21x and x = F/(1-F) and F is the expected market penetration of smartphones.

So if F = 91%, x = 10, y = 2.11 and therefore the iPhone market share =  68%.

We also know from the plot of the market that F = .91 is reached around February 2017. So we can suggest that at 90% penetration (approximately saturation) the iPhone will have 68% market share of users in the US. Forecasting the addressable market (US population aged older than 13) at about 266 million that implies 180 million US users of the iPhone by early 2017.

Of course, four years is a very long time in the tech industry, and both Nokia and Blackberry prove that past success is no guarantee of future prospects, but it’s certainly a forecast that will put a smile on some faces at 1 Infinite Loop.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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