Press release

GSMA Intelligence: US and European Consumers Cautious on Move to 5G Devices, China and Korea Set to Lead Early Adoption

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The smartphone will remain the dominant consumer device into the new
decade, but the arrival of 5G will not guarantee a surge in device
upgrades, according to new GSMA Intelligence research. A new report, The
Future of Devices
, published at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
2020 in Las Vegas today, provides a wealth of insight on consumer
technology adoption trends over the coming years, including the outlook
for smartphones, smart speakers, wearables and other emerging categories.

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When do you plan to upgrade to 5G? (Graphic: Business Wire)

When do you plan to upgrade to 5G? (Graphic: Business Wire)

Based on the results of GSMA Intelligence’s 2019 Consumer Survey, the
report found that smartphone ownership among adults in most high- and
middle-income countries is at 85-95 per cent. However, only 30-40 per
cent of survey respondents in significant markets such as the US, Europe
and Australia said the arrival of 5G is likely to result in a smartphone
upgrade in the short term. By contrast, markets such as China and South
Korea will be early adopters; nearly 50 per cent of Chinese consumers
say they will buy a 5G phone as soon as they are available.

“The device ecosystem will be critical in shaping the trajectory of 5G
adoption,” said Peter Jarich, Head of GSMA Intelligence. “However, it’s
a mistake to believe that consumers in every market will look at 5G
upgrades in the same way. Operators and device manufacturers will need
to understand consumer demand on a granular level if they hope to make
the most of the 5G opportunity.”


Mixed picture for smart home and wearables

Fragmentation and a lack of compatibility between manufacturers hamper
the adoption of smart home devices. However, this segment is being
boosted by the growing popularity of smart speakers, such as Amazon’s
Echo devices, which are increasingly acting as a single control point
within the home. Smart speakers were the fastest moving category in the
2019 survey, now owned by 21 per cent of households, up ten percentage
points over the previous year. Speakers have become a key battleground
in the broader development of AI. Amazon and Google are furthest ahead,
but both face the challenge of getting customers to go beyond basic
functionality to higher-value tasks such as purchasing goods.

Meanwhile, the adoption rates for fitness trackers and smartwatches also
picked up in 2019, and are now owned by 21 per cent and 10 per cent of
adults, respectively. Millennials show the most substantial ownership
rates of these devices, being more tech-savvy than older generations and
also benefitting from an employer or insurance-based subsidies. However,
the report notes that connected health devices continue to be sorely
underrepresented among older populations. Missing older people is a
missed opportunity for tech companies and governments, given that such
devices can facilitate remote monitoring for a range of conditions,
reducing the volume of in-person consultations and the strain on
national healthcare systems.

The 2020 edition of The Future of Devices report is available to
accredited members of the press on request. This report is based on GSMA
Intelligence’s 2019 Consumer Survey, which surveyed 38,000 respondents
across 36 key markets, using a blend of online and face-to-face sampling

GSMA Intelligence @ #CES2020

GSMA Intelligence will be hosting a seminar dedicated to IoT at the MGM
Grand in Las Vegas during CES. During this session, GSMA Intelligence
will feature its latest forecasts and expectations for both consumer and
enterprise IoT.

Our senior analysts will be available on-site for one-to-one media
interviews during the week. We can provide expert commentary across a
range of industry topics and discuss all the key announcements and
developments. Please contact us at:


About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting
more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile
ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies,
equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in
adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading
MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Shanghai, as well
as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at
Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.