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Have you ever wondered just how many smartphones have been sold over time? The number may shock you. Last year over one billion units were sold globally. According to research firm IDC, sales of the devices reached a total of 1.004 billion, increasing by 38.4% on the previous year. That is a lot of smartphones!

It is now predicted that one in every five people in the world own a smartphone. This rise in consumer consumption has transformed the way that we use the internet. As more users migrate to the mobile platform, PC and laptop sales are suffering. Last year, the IDC reported that PC sales fell by 10%.

Although this rate is expected to slow, by 2017 87% of connected device sales will be either smartphones or tablets. By then shipments of PCs will likely be around 300 million, while smartphones will have reached the 1.16 billion mark by 2016. That is no surprise given the improvements in smartphones and tablets since they originally hit the scene.

One reason why we are increasingly choosing smartphones over PCs is their accessibility and multi-functionality. We are able to connect globally with the click of a button and bring a vast amount of information and entertainment to our fingertips. With the average person having just two hours and 45 minutes per day of spare time, this convenience is a major factor in our choice of purchase.

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But it’s not just users that are benefitting from their availability. Brands are now able to reach potential customers and connect with them in a much faster and more user-beneficial way. Smartphones account for 73% of all online mobile impressions, so they are a valuable source of user engagement.

According to a study by OpenMarket and Forrester Consulting, 63% of enterprises claim that the highest priority of their mobile channel strategies is customer engagement. The second and third priorities were acquiring new customers (35%) and improving customer satisfaction (30%).

Many firms find that apps are an ideal way to do this. While gaming site’s such as Full Tilt allow new and existing customers to play while on the go, ecommerce companies such as Argos allow customers to make digital purchases that they may not have otherwise found time to complete.

Last year, Apple announced that their flagship App Store contained more than one million different app titles, proving the diversity of applications that the devices offer. With more people gaining access to smartphones than ever before, and companies constantly striving to improve their user experience, it seems that the mobile platform is the future of the online world.