Counterfeit trade threatens to call time on the health of the smartphone industry, according to new research, which estimates that $48 billion (45.3 billion euros) worth of sales were lost to phoney phones in 2015.
The study from European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), indicates that 184 million fewer smartphones were sold by legitimate retailers in 2015 – the equivalent of 12.9 percent of all sales.
The highest number of counterfeit sales were made to consumers in Africa (21.3 percent), followed by Latin America (19.6 percent), the Middle East (17.4 percent), China (15.6 percent) and Asia-Pacific (11.8 percent).
Fakes accounted for 8.3 percent of all smartphone purchases in Europe and 7.6 percent in the U.S.
António Campinos, EUIPO executive director, said the findings should come as a wakeup call for policymakers.
"At the EUIPO, through our reporting and analysis, we are building a picture of how counterfeiting and piracy affect key economic sectors. This is our first report in this series which analyses a sector both inside and outside the EU.
"Its estimate that 12.9 percent of legitimate sales of smartphones were lost globally in 2015 can act as a powerful message for policymakers, and all who work to combat counterfeiting worldwide."