The number of smartphones is forecast to triple to 5.6 billion globally by 2019, according to a new report by Sweden's Ericsson AB, the world's largest maker of telecommunications networks.
Ericsson also predicts that smartphone data traffic will grow tenfold over the same period, reaching 10 billion gigabytes by 2019. It expectsto account for about 50 percent of that traffic, while social networking and web services account for about 10 percent each.
The total number of mobile subscriptions worldwide -- including both smartphones and regular cellphones -- is predicted to reach 9.3 billion by 2019.
Smartphones account for about 25-30 percent of all current mobile subscriptions. However, their prevalence is increasing; Ericsson says smartphones now make up about 55 percent of new mobile phone sales.
Douglas Gilstrap, Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy at Ericsson, says the shift from regular cellphones to smartphones is likely to continue as prices come down. "This trend will be driven by uptake in China and other emerging markets as lower-priced smartphone models become available," he said.