Study: Number of smartphone users tops 1 billion

In this Tuesday, May 29, 2012 photo, the Pantone 5 mobile devices, the world's first cell phones with built-in radiation monitors, are shown during a press conference by Softbank Corp. AP Photo/Kyodo News

The number of active smartphone users around the world has topped 1 billion, according to a global research and consulting firm, and that number is only increasing.

Strategy Analytics reports that it took 16 years -- since the introduction of the Nokia Communicator and with the help of the revolutionary iPhone -- for one in seven people to own and use those sophisticated little devices. They estimate that Android and Apple iOs combined accounts for the majority of people's smartphones.

And smartphone use is exponentially increasing. The firm estimates another billion will become smart phone users by 2015.

Scott Bicheno, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement that Nokia remained a dominant force in the smartphone market since it introduced the world's first modern smartphone in 1996 for over a decade, until the iPhone forever changed the industry with its introduction in 2007.

"The iPhone revolutionized smartphone design and it catalyzed industry growth," Bicheno said. "By the third quarter of 2011, we estimate there were 708 million smartphones in use worldwide. After a further year of soaring demand, the number of smartphones in use worldwide reached 1.038 billion units during the third quarter of 2012."

One billion, however, is still a relatively small number in a world population of 7 billion.

"Smartphone penetration is still relatively low," said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics. "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."

Bloomberg Industries estimates the smartphone market was worth $219 billion last year.

  • Sara Dover On Twitter»

    Sara Dover is an associate news editor for CBSNews.com

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