UAE has the highest smartphone penetration in the WORLD

While walking along the streets of Jumeirah 1, I noticed how so many people around me were engrossed in their smartphones. I am old to remember the days when having a mobile was for the priviledged and few. But nowadays even school children carry personal smartphones. In fact there was a recent report which stated that children as young as five now have a smartphone. I’m not sure how I feel about that — I agree with parents it’s handy to keep track of your children but surely access to the wonderful world of hyper connectivity should happen a little later in life?

A recent report by Google’s OurMobile Planet on smartphone penetration was fascinating to read. Having moved here last October I knew that people were hooked on smartphones but I had no idea that here in the we have the highest mobile penetration rate, interestingly enough, the United States doesn’t even fall among the top five. And if you take a walk around any mall or a drive down the Sheikh Zayed Road you can see that the big two — Apple and my client Samsung are KING here in terms of marketing investment in this country.

So why is the UAE’s consumer particularly enamored with the smartphone? I think it’s two fold. People prefer smartphones because they can easily access internet and social networking which enables them to stay connected with their family and friends. Smartphones make it so much easier for the huge expat and travelers communities here to get in touch with their loved ones back home using apps like Viber and Whatsapp. And everyone from locals to expats loves to show and share what a fabulous lifestyle we really have here in the UAE. Fashion, swanky restaurants/food, places and events that people have attended are all chronicled heavily here by smartphone users in the UAE using Instagram, Keek, Vine, InstaVideo and YouTube.

As mentioned in one of my previous Tumblr’s, smartphone penetration in UAE and Saudi until last year was at 60% and 61% respectively. This uptake has increased dramatically in 2013, according to the recent report, UAE’s penetration has reached 73.8 % which marks an increase of 13%. On the other hand Saudi Arabia stands at 72% with almost an increase of 11%. Again we see the US slowing down as it becomes a highly saturated market for the big lying at number 13 with just 56.4% penetration.


Not only in UAE but in the entire MENA region there have been drastic changes in the mobile market over the years. According to Business Intelligence Middle East, the time is quickly approaching when every person on the planet will be connected using smartphones and with prices falling and demand for instant connection and storytelling amongst their peers, many consumers are already deciding to adopt a smart device instead of a feature phone.

Currently, there are more than 14 million mobile phones in operation here in the UAE and this is only set to increase. Gone are the days when one had to wait for their computer to start in order to get in touch with their pals. We live in a generation where phones switch on within micro seconds and our messages are delivered across the world within seconds. I know I’m biased as they’re a client but I absolutely #LOVE my new Galaxy S4 — it’s fast, it’s light, it has a huge screen — it does everything i need it to and more. I can’t wait to see how mobile adoption and technology impact consumers from all walks of life here in the UAE and what cultural impact it will bring. From my perspective it can only be for the good as people get more access to information and are able to connect with those that share their passions and interests. What do you think?

[Image: Gizmoreport]

Originally published at