Dubai: Smartphones will account for two out of every three mobile connections globally by 2020, according to a new report that pegs India as the fourth largest market of hi-tech phones in 2014.

The report, “Smartphone forecasts and assumptions, 2007-2020", prepared by GSMA Intelligence, finds that smartphones presently account for one in every three mobile connections, representing more than two billion connections.

It forecasts that the number of smartphone connections will grow three-fold over the next six years, reaching six billion by 2020, accounting for two-thirds of the nine billion mobile connections by that time. Basic phones, feature phones and data terminals such as tablets, dongles and routers will account for the remaining connections.

The study excludes M2M from the connections totals. “The smartphone has sparked a wave of global innovation that has brought new services to millions and efficiencies to businesses of every type," said Hyunmi Yang, chief strategy officer at the GSMA. “One billion new smartphone connections are expected over the next 18 months alone," Yang said. According to Yang, in the hands of consumers, these devices are improving living standards and changing lives. “As the industry evolves, smartphones are becoming lifestyle hubs that are creating opportunities for mobile industry players in vertical markets," he said.

The report finds that developing world overtook the developed world in terms of smartphone connections in 2011 and today accounts for two in every three smartphones. By 2020, four out of every five smartphone connections worldwide will come from the developing world.

Asia Pacific today accounts for about half of global smartphone connections, even though smartphone penetration in the region is currently calculated at below 40%. The Asia Pacific total is boosted by the inclusion of China, the world’s largest smartphone market, with more than 629 million smartphone connections.

China is followed by US (196.8 million connections), Brazil (141.8 million) and India (111 million connections). The report forecasts that in the next six years the smartphone market will be driven by rising demands in the developing world, as in the developed world the smartphone penetration is approaching the 70 to 80% “ceiling" at which growth tends to slow.

Smartphone connections grew by 35% in North America and by 39% in Europe between 2010 and 2013, compared to growth rates of over 80% during the same period in Asia Pacific and Latin America.