Although smartphone makers have historically geared their products toward business and other high-end users, sales in the future will be driven by the developing world and the youth market, Symbian's chief executive said during the annual Symbian Smartphone Show in London.
Regions that have essentially nonexistent PC use and poor landline telecommunications services will rely on smartphones and mobile networks to access the Internet, said Nigel Clifford, chief executive officer of Symbian, on Tuesday.
India is one place proving that mobile phones are more attractive than computers. In India, about 5 million PCs are sold per year while the same number of phones are sold each month, Clifford said.
The fast developing market in China also indicates that smartphones in particular are popular in emerging economies. One in six of all smartphones is being shipped to China currently, he said.
He also pointed to a service that has become popular in Bangladesh, called CellBazaar. Mobile phone users there can sell or trade items online in the virtual marketplace. "It's giving rise to an army of micro-entrepreneurs," Clifford said.
Clifford predicted that in the next five years 50 percent of smartphones will be sold to "leapfrogging economies," or regions where he expects most will use smartphones as their first access point to the Internet.
Young people around the world will also make up a large portion of smartphone users in the near future, Clifford said. They have grown up being connected to the Internet and have driven the popularity of some of the most heavily visited Web sites in the world, namely the social networking sites, he noted. Smartphones will allow this group to bring their social networking experience with them wherever they go, he said.