At the end of 2011, there were 6 billion mobile subscriptions, estimates The International Telecommunication Union (2011). That is equivalent to 87 percent of the world population. And is a huge increase from 5.4 billion in 2010 and 4.7 billion mobile subscriptions in 2009
June 2012: The essential compendium of need-to-know statistics. Beware of media hype and mobile myth – put your mobile strategy on a sound footing with the latest research and stats from credible independent experts. Global mobile subscribers, top mobile countries, handset sales, smartphone market share, tablets, mobile phone security, top mobile network operators.
1) Mobile subscribers worldwide
2) Largest mobile markets: China • India • USA
3) Mobile device shipments
4) Smartphone shipments • Operating system market share
5) Mobile tablets and e-Readers
6) Mobile phone security • Rise of mobile malware
7) Top mobile network operators • timescale for operators to run out of profit
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At the end of 2011, there were 6 billion mobile subscriptions, estimates The International Telecommunication Union (2011). That is equivalent to 87 percent of the world population. And is a huge increase from 5.4 billion in 2010 and 4.7 billion mobile subscriptions in 2009.
• Mobile subscribers in the developed world has reached saturation point with at least one cell phone subscription per person. This means market growth is being driven by demand developing world, led by rapid mobile adoption in China and India, the world’s most populous nations.
• At the end of 2011 there were 4.5 billion mobile subscriptions in the developing world (76 percent of global subscriptions). Mobile penetration in the developing world now is 79 percent, with Africa being the lowest region worldwide at 53 percent.
• Portio Research – in the excellent free Mobile Factbook 2012 predicts that mobile subscribers worldwide will reach 6.5 billion by the end of 2012, 6.9 billion by the end of 2013 and 8 billion by the end of 2016.
• Portio research estimates that Asia Pacific’s share of the mobile subscribers will rise from 50.7 percent in 2011 to 54.9 percent in 2016. By 2016 Africa and Middle East will overtake Europe as the second largest region for mobile subscribers Africa.
• Ericsson (June 2012) believes global mobile penetration reached 87 percent in Q1 2012 and mobile subscriptions now total around 6.2 billion. However, the actual number of subscribers is around 4.2 billion, since many people have several subscriptions.
“There is a large difference between the number of subscriptions and subscribers. This is due to the fact that many subscribers have several subscriptions. Reasons for this could include users lowering their traffic cost by using optimized subscriptions for different types of calls, maximizing coverage, having different subscriptions for mobile PCs/tablets and for mobile phones. In addition, it takes time before inactive subscriptions are removed from operator databases. Consequently, subscription penetration can easily reach above 100 percent, which is the case in many countries today. It should however be noted that in some developing regions, it is common for several people to share one subscription, having for example a family or village phone.”
• Ericsson forecasts that mobile subscriptions will reach 9 billion in 2017, of which 5 billion will be mobile broadband connections.
• See Section B: for all stats and analysis on Mobile Web and mobile broadband.
• mobiThinking note: Mobile subscriptions outnumber fixed lines 5:1 (more so in developing nations); Mobile broadband outnumbers fixed broadband 2:1. With stats like this, it is easy to see why the experts predict that mobile Web usage will overtake PC-based Web usage. This will happen more quickly in developing nations (if it isn’t happening already) where fixed Web penetration remains low. In developed nations, this will happen more slowly. IDC believes that mobile Web usage will not overtake PC Web usage in the US until 2015. Regardless of the timescale, this inevitability makes your mobile Web strategy more important than your PC Web strategy in the long term.
• See Section B: for all the stats on Mobile Web; 3G etc
30 percent of the world’s mobile users live in India and China. As of March 2012, there are now more than a billion subscribers in China, with India not far behind. Both dwarf the number of subscribers in third place USA.
• China: 1,023.7 million subscribers – 76 percent of population – in April 2012 (see table below for operator breakdown), 159.3 million of these are 3G users.
• India: 919.2 million subscribers in March 2012 (TRAI, May 2012) – 75 percent of population. 65 percent of mobile subscribers are urban dwellers.
• USA: 331.6 million subscribers (105.8 percent of population) in November 2011 (CTIA).
3a) There were 11.1 percent more mobile devices sold in 2011 compared to 2010.
• IDC (February 2012): 1,546 million handsets were sold in 2011, up 11.1 percent compared with 2010.
• Gartner (February 2012): 1,775 million handsets were sold in 2011, up 11.1 percent compared with 2010.
• Gartner (February 2012): predicts mobile device sales will grow by 7 percent in 2012, while smartphone growth is expected to slow to 39 percent.
• Strategy Analytics (February 2012): 1,551.4 million handsets were sold in 2011, up 14 percent compared with 2010.
• These figures include feature phones (68-69 percent of handsets sold in 2011) and smartphones (31-32 percent of handsets sold in 2011). Smartphone sales are broken out below.
• mobiThinking note: Mobile phone sales stats are often confused with handset market penetration. The breakdown of handsets sold in a given period is not a very accurate indication of what handsets people are actually using, as most people retain the same handset for 18 months, 24 months (depending on their contract) or longer. That’s why you won’t find quarterly sales stats here – they can be very misleading. Yearly sales give a better indication of market penetration, but looking at sales over a two or even three years provides a more accurate picture.
In the absence of research based on sales of handsets, the best indication of mobile device market penetration is research based on surveys of consumers. There are no global figures – surveys are only conducted in a few of the most developed mobile markets. While survey data is useful, it should be noted that these figures are based on the responses of a few thousand people in markets of 30-330 million mobile subscribers, and thus should only be considered as estimates of market penetration.
• ComScore (Q4 2011): The top device manufacturer by market penetration in Western Europe is Nokia, in the US is Samsung and in Japan is Sharp.
• ComScore (Q4 2011) estimates that in UK and Spain smartphones now outnumber feature phones (which is remarkable considering that smartphones were 31-32 percent of handsets sold in 2011).
• Smartphone market penetration are broken out by manufacturer and operating system below.
• The estimates below are based surveys conducted ComScore in Q4 2011.
Smartphone sales showed strong growth worldwide in 2011
• IDC (February 2012): Total shipments in 2011 were 491.4 million units up 61.3 percent from 2010. This makes smartphones 31.8 percent of all handsets shipped.
• Strategy Analytics (February 2012): Total shipments in 2011 were 488.5 million units up 63.1 percent from 2010. This makes smartphones 31.5 percent of all handsets shipped.
• Gartner (February 2012): Total smartphone sales in 2011 reached 472 million units up 58 percent from 2010. This makes smartphones 31 percent of all handsets shipped.
• IDC (June 2012): predicts that 686 million smartphones will be sold in 2012, 38.4 percent of all handsets shipped.
• The following graph from IDC (February 2012) shows the changing market share for smartphone manufacturers through 2011 (note Nokia’s decline from No1 smartphone vendor):
• mobiThinking reality check on smartphones:
The media tends to overegg the importance of smartphones and Apple in particular. Before media hype lulls you into focusing your marketing/development budget on smartphones or the Apple platform exclusively, consider this: 68/69 percent of handsets sold globally in 2011 were not smartphones, they were feature phones; 94/95 percent of all phones sold were not Apple.
N.B. smartphone sales is not the same as market penetration. Market penetration of smartphones will be lower. There are almost 6 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide (Source: ITU), yet only 968.2 million smartphones have been sold in total in 2009, 2010 and 2011, according to IDC i.e. only 16 percent of global mobile subscriptions.
• More analysis on all these numbers.
China is now the top market for smartphones accounting for 22 percent of global smartphone shipments in Q1 2012. The US (formerly the largest market) accounted for 16 percent, according to estimates by Canalys (May 2012).
4c) Android is the top operating system for new smartphones sold in 2011.
• Canalys (February 2012): 48.8 percent of smartphones shipped in 2011, shipped with Google’s free Android OS.
• Canalys points out that smartphones now outsell PCs.
• Previously Nokia was the leader in smartphones, until its surprise decision to drop its Symbian OS in 2011.
• Ericsson (June 2012) believes that around 10-15 percent of the worldwide installed base of subscriptions use smartphones.
• Of the 6 billion worldwide mobile subscriptions, in 2011, around 700 million used a smartphone. Of the estimated 9 billion worldwide mobile subscriptions, in 2017, around 3 billion will use a smartphone.
• Surveys conducted by ComScore suggest that in some developed markets smartphone penetration is much higher than this.
• ComScore (Q4 2011): In Western Europe smartphone penetration is 44.0 percent. In the US smartphone penetration is 41.8 percent. In the Japan smartphone penetration is 17 percent. The Android operating system leads in Western Europe (31.2 percent), just ahead of Nokia’s Symbian, US (47 percent) and Japan (60.5 percent), considerably ahead of Apple’s iOS in all three markets.
• The estimates below are based surveys conducted ComScore in Q4 2011.
• mobiThinking note: While survey data is useful, it should be noted that these figures are based on the responses of a few thousand people in markets of 30-330 million mobile subscribers, and thus should only be considered as estimates of market penetration.
• mobiThinking note: The most remarkable statistic here (if correct) is the relatively low penetration of smartphones in Japan, a market with some of the highest mobile Web usage in the world. This shatters the misconception that you need a smartphone to access the mobile Web. Companies ignore feature phone users at their peril.
• See Section B: for all the stats on mobile Web, 3G etc.
• mobiThinking note: Smartphone penetration in the UK and Spain seems remarkably high, considering that smartphones were only 35 percent of handsets sold globally in 2011 and considerably less in 2010.
It is debatable whether the tablet is any more a mobile device than a laptop with a 3G wireless connection, but there has been a surprising amount of interest in this nascent format.
• IDC (March 2012): 68.7 million media tablets sold in 2011. This is predicted to rise to 106.1 million units. Apple leads the pack, having sold 40.5 million iPads. Other players include Amazon’s Kindle Fires (which debuted in Q3, 2011), Samsung, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Pandigital.
• The following IDC graph shows the expected growth of media tablets to 2016:
• mobiThinking note: Before you invest a considerable junk of your mobile budget in tablet computers, consider this: in 2011 global mobile handset sales outnumbered tablet sales by 22:1. Tablets sold: 68 million… mobile handsets sold: 1.5 billion.
Only a fraction of smartphones and tablets are protected by security software, despite a rise in the amount of malware targeted at mobile devices.
Estimates for growth of mobile malware (includes viruses, worms and malicious software used by hackers, such as code inserted into compromised mobile apps) vary greatly, but all expects warn that it is growing very fast.
• BullGuard identified a staggering 2,500 different types of mobile malware in 2010.
• IBM X-Force named 2011 the year of the security breach, predicting that “exploits targeting vulnerabilities that affect mobile operating systems will more than double from 2010”.
Yet most smartphones and tablets have little security protection:
• Canalys (October 2011): Only 4 percent of smartphones and tablet computers shipped in 2010 had some form of mobile security downloaded and installed.
• Juniper Research (August 2011): Less than 1 in 20 smartphones and tablets have third-party security software installed in them, despite a steady increase in threats.
This is expected to change, let by sales to business:
• Canalys: US $759.8 million will be spent on security in 2011 alone, growing at 44 percent annually to be worth US $3 billion in 2015.
• Juniper: By 2016, 277 million mobile devices will have some kind of protection installed, costing mobile users a collective US$3.6 billion. 69 percent of this investment will be made by corporations concerned about corporate data is stored on mobile devices.
7a) China Mobile is the largest mobile operator in the world by subscribers and revenues according to Portio Research (2011).
• For this research Portio looked at the mobile operator groups and calculated the proportional number of subscribers across the whole group, taking into account that some operators only had part shares in some of their subsidiaries. Notably, while groups such as Vodafone, America Movil and Telefonica span many operators in many countries, China Mobile’s subscribers are only in China. And since these stats were taken in 2010, it has added 78 million subscribers to its base – see the April 2012 stats above.
mobiThinking note on the Top fives: the most interesting thing is the predominance of Asian mobile operators coming top in both the customer loyalty and data revenues sections. Perhaps this represents different and longer-term priorities than the European networks that come top in average revenue per user. (Note: the analysis in this report is based on 2008 revenues).
7b) Mobile operators in developed countries could run out of profit in the next two to four years if they do not change their business models, according to research by Tellabs/Analysys Mason (February 2011). This assumes current trends in demand for data, revenues and costs associated with investing in high speed data networks.