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How many smartphones does the world need?

Lex is a premium daily commentary service from the Financial Times. It helps readers make better investment decisions by highlighting key emerging risks and opportunities.

If you’ve “bumped” your Samsung smartphone against another to share photos you’ll know how cool it is. The action, called S-beam, looks like a geeky high five. But a look at the share prices of the biggest phonemakers (down, year to date) doesn’t inspire a celebratory gesture – only a question: how many smartphones does the world need?