Australia's smartphone penetration, which currently sits at 73 per cent in the 15 to 65 age group, is set to reach 93 per cent by 2018, according to analyst firm Frost and Sullivan's 'Mobile Device Usage Trends 2013' report.
Based on the report, Frost concludes that mobile phones have transitioned from voice and text devices to multi-functional products, based on usage. More than half of participating smartphone users stated their main engagement with mobile phones is for media, particularly video streaming via YouTube, and increasingly digital music streaming from the likes of Spotify and its competitors.
"As smartphone functionality continues to improve with higher resolutions and larger screens, faster Internet access via 4G networks and higher data downloads, this percentage will increase over the next few years," Frost Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) senior research manager, Phil Harpur, said.
The primary factor contributing to the decline in traditional voice function and SMS usage is the growing accessibility to an array of other options for communication (over-the-top services), such as WhatsApp and Viber.
"Accessing social networking along with searching for jobs, houses to rent and cars to buy will continue to increase in popularity over the next few years," Harpur said. "Booking travel and accommodation through mobile devices, laptops and PCs is gaining popularity with nearly 60 per cent of consumers doing this at least once every six months."
In the operating system war, Android has overtaken Apple's iOS as the most popular smartphone platform as major vendors (Samsung, HTC, Sony, and so on) continue to push devices across the price points. Samsung in particular has grown its market share significantly over the past 12 months. Frost predicts Apple's smartphone market share will drop further over the next few years, and by 2017, the figure will be less than 30 per cent.
Tablet penetration in Australia is forecast to increase from 49 per cent in 2013, to 80 per cent in 2018. Frost claims slate growth will outpace that of smartphones. Harpur said this is because smartphones are "a more mature device closer to maximum penetration."
The Apple iPad dominates the tablet market globally, although this will dampen as competitors improve their product functionality and hit the cheaper price points. According to Frost, the past 12 months has seen Apple's Australian tablet share drop from 69 to 60 per cent.
The 'Mobile Device Usage Trends 2013' report, conducted in May, surveyed 1000 Australians between 15 and 65, and comprised "intensive desk research and monitoring of the market," Frost's existing decision support databases, public third party statistics (ABS, for example), and additional insights and verification from "various industry sources."