The number of smartphone users in Latin America will reach 155.9 million this year, an increase of 22.2 percent year-over-year, according to estimates by the digital marketing research organization eMarketer. A combined 84 percent of smartphone users in the region will come from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru in 2015. That share will remain more or less unchanged throughout the forecast period, dropping only marginally to 83.1 percent by 2019. Brazil and Mexico lead with 49.1 million and 38.5 million smartphone users, respectively, in 2015. Colombia will consolidate its position as the third-largest regional market, with 16.7 million users this year. Outside the countries tracked individually by eMarketer in Latin America, there will be 25 million smartphone users in 2015, with Venezuela contributing the bulk of that number. The number of smartphone users in the region as a whole is forecast to reach 245.6 million by 2019.
With such vigorous growth taking place across Latin America, it is natural that foreign service providers would seek to enter the region, usually be acquiring stakes in local MNOs. Recent examples are Vietnam-based Viettel (in Peru) and U.S.-based AT&T (in Mexico). Latin America, which long lagged behind where it should have been with regard to network strength and quality, is now catching up and has plenty of motivation to move even farther ahead. The dramatic rise in smartphone ownership this year bodes very well for the mobile industry across the region in years to come.