To Which Countries Are Smartphones Penetrating the Most and Why?

To Which Countries Are Smartphones Penetrating the Most and Why?

Curious about world smartphone penetration? Pew Research Center has conducted an extensive research on worldwide smartphone penetration and internet usage. The research center published data on smartphone ownership and smartphone penetration by country. The ongoing digital globalization of ecommerce and social media is creating high demand from people to stay connected at all time.

At GFluence we decided to take a closer look at the top 10 countries with the highest smartphone penetration usage rates. We went in to country specific cultural, social and economic trends behind the data. The list is extremely colorful. Countries are spread across different continents, languages and level of economic development. Take a look at our map and chart to see which are the countries with most smartphone users:

top 10 countries smartphone penetration

Source: GFluence

Emerging Economies Call For Bigger Smartphone Usage

Next to the big names of the world’s smartphone markets like U.S., Canada and Germany we have Malaysia and Chile. The two countries have been experiencing economic growth and as telecommunication infrastructure improves, technological development and mobile penetration causes the craze for smartphones in developing countries.

Did you know that Malaysia’s craze for social media and digital entertainment has caused serious concerns about addiction and obsession with smartphones? Over occupation with staring in one’s phone is spreading like a plague across the entire country infecting both the young and old. The unhealthy obsession is causing smartphone sales to skyrocket among the entire population.

Accordin to PRC’s research 85% of internet users in Chile use social media. And guess what – that ranks Chile on 7th place in the world in comparison to other countries by the percentage of social media users. And as Chile is highly investing in telecommunications to spread mobile data connections across the land, many people who don’t have access to high speed internet, can catch up on social media through their smartphones.

Though once a poor and underdeveloped country under the dictatorship of Pinochet, Chile is now one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. When a society is undergoing such changes, it is not unusual that people are eager to catch up with the trends of more developed countries, thus the cause of the spread of smartphones.

South Korea – The Smartphone Dominatrix

If smartphone addiction is an emerging trend in Malaysia, it is already a recognized disease in South Korea. The government and local authorities had to take necessary measures to secure safety of drivers and pedestrians against smartphone addicts. On the streets of Seoul you will find street signs warning pedestrians not to stare on their phones when crossing the street.

street signs for smartphone usage


A group of South Korean psychologists tried to identify trends behind the so called “Smartphone Zombies“. In their research it was found that women in South Korea use smartphones for social media more than men, because of their tendency to maintain good friendly relationships, while men use smartphones for entertainment more than women especially, to relax after the long working hours. A major reason for high smartphone ownership is also phone messaging and gaming addiction, especially among teenagers. 99.2% of messaging app users (that’s 88.3% of all smartphone owners) use the South Korean app KakaoTalk.

Let’s not forget that two of the world’s most recognized smartphone brands are from South Korea – Samsung and LG. Blame it on national pride or supporting the local economy, it’s a habit around the world that people trust and support their national brands. South Koreans are constantly bombarded by smartphone novelties, advertisements and price deals. For the new Galaxy S8 more than one million of phones have been ordered in advance in the country.

Isrealis Need Smartphones to Check For Security Updates

While many parents from different countries have to face exhausting arguments with their children when they should give them their first smartphone, this is not the case in Israel. Due to the country’s unstable security situtation, parents are more at ease knowing their child has a smartphone so they can reach them at any time through various channels of communication.

It is the reason the Israeli app Red Alert was created. The “Red Alert” app, developed by an Israeli teenager, sends a text alert to a mobile device whenever air-raid sirens are blared anywhere in Israel. Each alert also states the location of the warnings.

Due to the above stated reasons, Israelis are also obsessed with checking up on news updates. It might be for security reasons or other world news or even what is your cousin doing after school hours, the nation has a habit of loving to know what is going on and to be well informed.

Better the Economy, Better the Connection

Which is the largest smartphone market by country? You might think that countries like the US, U.K., Australia, Canada, Germany and Spain would have a steady and not as high of a mobile penetration rate in comparison to emerging economies, it is actually quite the opposite. There is a strong connection between country wealth and smartphone ownership.

A smartphone sales comparison will show that in developed countries where consumers’ purchase power is high and there is strong retail competition, smartphone prices are lower than in developing countries. This is evident from the chart below, which shows smartphone ownership by country.

Keep in mind we are dealing with wealthier countries and overall well educated citizens. In comparison to less developed countries, people from Europe and North America not only follow digital and social media trends, but also create them. Taking part in social media is something that isn’t merely an option, but what the Western world actually expects from you. With smartphones people can stay connected 24 hours per day. That’s why it’s difficult to compare the same factors of smartphone penetration in Germany and in Vietnam.

Big or small companies know that without proper social media coverage it is getting harder and harder to attract new customers. Spreading and even creating news efficiently today is made through Twitter and if you don’t check your Facebook often enough you just might miss your friend’s party. And all this causes high interdependence between people and smartphones.

Have you thought about adapting your marketing strategy for smartphone users? With mobile internet search surpassing desktop search, it would be high time you did. We’ll help you get started, don’t be shy and contact us.

Featured image source:


Grab a FREE International SEO Assessment

We'll take a look into your international website and get you a list of suggestions.

Polona Golob

Polona Golob

Enjoys a good crossword puzzle and matching keywords is her favorite.

Entries by Polona Golob