Diffusion of technologies follow a bell curve, going from early adopters, on to majority, late majority and laggards, to reach 100% penetration. This phenomenon was studied and explained by Everett Rogers back in 1983.
Stacking up the data of smartphone sales from last years, it´s amazing how accurately its adoption follows the pattern. The coloured area on the right part of the chart, corresponding to actual US smartphone sales gives you an indication of the maturity of this market today, well above 50% penetration, versus worldwide penetration sitting north of 22% only.
A similar pattern can be observed looking at top 5 European countries.
This post from the analyst Horace Dediu is the original source for the all data and graphs.
Now you can estimate where the growth (in volume) will come from, geographically speaking, based on adoption and relative audience available.
And this, regardless of manufacturer shares, as the theory demonstrates the different players will adapt their strategies accordingly, within the limits of the S adoption curve.
This theory can be applied to literally any new technology breakthrough; products, services, social networks....
Now, the task is to analyze the underlying reasons behind the pattern. The Why.
There are some theories out there linking human learning processes with it but I suspect there is more behind, specifically about the perceived benefit of a technology within the community (or the bigger entire human colony if you will), and the role of the brand as a fostering mechanism for adoption.
Fascinating food for thought.
credits: Horace Dediu. Asymco