An Overview of Latin America’s Mobile Market for 2014

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When it comes to Latin America’s mobile market, the growth has been fast and furious, with new trends emerging in terms of behavior and usage. It’s a challenge to sort through the data just to make sense of it, let alone take advantage of it. So we decided to offer a statistical overview to help highlight the important facts that may influence mobile ad campaigns in Latin America in 2014 and beyond.

Mobile Phone Users

According to GSMA, there are 328 million individual mobile users in Latin America. By the end of 2014 there will be 341 million mobile phone users in Latin America and by 2017, there will be 374 million.

Biggest Markets

Brazil has 112 million mobile phone users, followed by Mexico (97.6 million) and Argentina (53 million).

Mobile Internet Growth

A report from called Invasión Mobile Latinoamerica 2013 looks at the Latin American mobile market from several angles. One of them is in terms of growth of users connecting to the Internet via a smartphone or tablet. Costa Rica led Latin America in this area in 2013, with a 332% increase. Brazil was #2 in the growth of mobile Internet users with a 244% increase, followed by Argentina (221% increase), Colombia (216%), Mexico (213%), Chile (185%), Peru (166%), El Salvador (161%) and Venezuela (161%).

Mobile Broadband Connections

According to GSMA’s report—Mobile Economy Latin America 2013—in 2014 there will be 275 million mobile broadband connections in Latin America and 500 million by 2017.


At the end of 2013 there were 114 million smartphone owners in Latin America and by the end of 2014 there will be 146 million. By 2017 there will be 243 million smartphone owners in Latin America with 44% overall smartphone penetration. A look at key markets shows the following:

  • Argentina will have 12.7 million smartphone users in 2014
  • Brazil will have 41.2 million smartphone users in 2014
  • Mexico will have 33 million smartphone users in 2014 and overall sales of smartphones in 2014 (including new and current users) are projected to reach more than 37 million units

With other markets, precise amounts of smartphone users is harder to ascertain. That said, we do know the following:


  • Tablet sales in Mexico in 2013 reached 4.3 million according to IDC and in 2014 6.2 million tablets will be sold in Mexico
  • More than 900,000 tablets were sold in Argentina in 2013, compared to 400,000 sold in 2012 and 233,000 sold in 2011
  • Tablet sales in Brazil went up by 119% in 2013 to reach nearly 8 million and in 2014 will reach 10.7 million; currently it’s estimated that there are more than 11 million tablets in use in Brazil
  • It’s projected that more than 1.6 million tablets will be sold in 2014 in Peru: 2013 sales were 828,000, a 132% increase compared to 2012
  • Tablet sales tripled in Chile in 2013 to exceed 1.5 million units and are projected to reach more than 2 million units sold in 2014

Mobile Applications

According to the Competitive Intelligence Unit, mobile app penetration in Latin America was at 28% in November 2013. Most Latin American favor free as opposed to paid apps. Apps from Google Play had the largest market share at 41.5%.

Popular Apps

According to a 2013 study from Softonic, the most downloaded apps in Spanish are WhatsApp, Facebook’s mobile app and Opera Mini’s app. A survey by Qualcomm showed that WhatsApp was the most popular app among Brazilians, followed by WeChat and Facebook’s mobile app. Another study by OnDevice showed that WhatsApp is on 72% of the smartphones of Brazil, while Facebook Messenger is on 49% of them, and Skype is in third place with 30%.

Mobile Ad Investment

According to eMarketer, Mexico leads the rest of Latin America in mobile ad spend and projects an 87% increase in mobile ad spend in Mexico during 2014 to reach a total of US$173 million. In comparison, Brazil’s mobile ad spend is projected to reach US$132 million in 2014. That said, eMarketer projects that Brazil’s mobile ad spend will soar upward until reaching US$731 million in 2017. While other countries in Latam do not have the same level of mobile ad spend increase, recently Leonardo Hilario—advertising planning manager for Telefónica Digital in Latin America—projected that mobile advertising will grow by 70% annually through 2017.

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