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Smartphone sales to reach 1.85bn in five years

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The sale of smartphones is set to grow to 1.85bn by 2023 with development of more sophisticated electronic chips set to allow devices to greater deploy augmented reality, something which is ripe for business exploration, it is claimed today.

Professional services giant Deloitte today publishes a raft of new research and predictions in its 2018 Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) report in which it makes a number of startling prophecies for consumers and companies alike.

It predicts that in five years the smart phone will be the most used digital device globally by a clear margin with more than 92 per cent of adults in the UK alone expected to have a smartphone by 2023.

It says that by 2023 more than 85 per cent of 55-75 year-olds will have a smartphone, exceeding penetration of PCs and laptops within this age group.

As well as predicting global smartphone sales to rise to 19 per cent to 1.85 billion per year in 2023, equivalent to more than five million units sold every day, it said the likely total market value of smart phones will grow to $650 billion, versus $478 billion in 2017.

Meanwhile Deloitte is also anticipating a massively expansion in the impact of machine learning applications – from machine vision to voice recognition – via the deployment of 800,000 “machine learning centric chips” in data centres this year.

Smartphone app

Smartphone app

The roll out will mean one billion smartphone users will create augmented reality (AR) content in 2018 globally, with half of UK smartphone users doing so.

Matthew Hughes, partner and technology, media and telecommunications lead at Deloitte in Yorkshire, said: “Over the past 10 years the smartphone has redefined how people live and interact with each other.

“Over the next five, the smartphone will enter an era of ‘invisible innovation’, with under-the- surface improvements to connectivity, memory, sensors and artificial intelligence.

“Technology such as 5G and artificial intelligence will become prevalent, and this will have considerable ramifications for the work of business.

“For half of the UK’s workforce, the smartphone may be the ideal digital tool: its merits are its portability, biometric security and constant connection. The smartphone will drive much of the next phase of business process reinvention, providing a digital tool for the tens of millions of workers in the UK whose roles are not desk-based.

“The smartphone is a once-in- a-generation innovation whose full potential is far from realised.”

Deloitte added that in the medium term, AR will be increasingly used by businesses, enterprise and government for a variety of applications, with instruction manuals, technical support and public service announcements all being possible cases for AR content.

Mr Hughes added: “We expect AR capability will be a key differentiator for certain genres of apps, such as social networks, messaging, shopping and games; it will be an important driver of future smartphone upgrades.

“Enterprises should experiment enthusiastically but pragmatically with possible applications, but should be careful, however, not to start off with AR as the answer before looking for the solutions it could address.”