Growth in the South Korean market for smartphones is expected to turn negative this year due to market saturation, a report showed Monday.
According to the report compiled by Strategy Analytics, the local market for smartphones is expected to decline 14 percent to around 26.3 million units for the year, from last year's 30.7 million units.
The South Korean smartphone market has shown explosive growth since 2007 when Apple Inc. rolled out its legendary iPhone.
The local smartphone market reached 200,000 units in 2007, 6.9 million in 2010, and 17.5 million in 2011.
South Korea had the highest level of smartphone ownership in the world last year, backed by rising demand for the device and faster Internet networks, earlier data showed.
According to data compiled by Strategy Analytics, 67.6 of mobile consumers in the country had smartphones last year, the highest rate in the world. The global average was 14.8 percent.
In 2011, South Korea ranked fourth with 38.3 percent smartphone ownership, a sharp rise from 14 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in 2010 and 2009, the data showed.
Strategy Analytics forecast that South Korea's smartphone penetration rate would reach 79.5 percent this year, topping Singapore's expected rate of 66.5 percent and Hong Kong's 63.6 percent.
In 2017, it forecast South Korea's smartphone ownership to reach 88.9 percent.
The report showed that China's smartphone market is expected to reach 315 million units this year, sharply growing from last year's 173 million units.
The U.S. smartphone market is expected to increase to 143 million units this year from last year's 115 million units, according to the report.