Thanks to the race to sell the most devices, mainly lead by Nokia who is absolutely dominating in the emerging economies, analyst firm iSuppli is predicting that by the end of this month there will be 5 billion mobile subscriptions or in other words nearly 3 out of every 4 people walking on this planet will own a mobile phone. That number does need to be dissected a little to be fully understood. Mobile penetration in Africa stands at about 50% or 1 phone for every 2 people, whereas in Europe it’s about 157.6% or 3 phones for every 2 people.
“If the importance of an event can be measured by the number of people it affects, then the proliferation of wireless communications stands out as one of the most significant phenomena in the history of technology,” said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli. “Wireless communication now has spread to every nation, every age and every income level, becoming a basic staple like food, clothing and shelter. Wireless now represents the biggest stage that any technology market has ever played on, offering unlimited opportunities for members of the mobile communications supply chain.”
You read that? A mobile phone is now up there with a loaf of bread in terms of importance to one’s life. Whether it be the farmer who needs to find out what price he should sell his grains, or a city boy who needs to make it to a business meeting and needs GPS and a map to find out where his client is, that little piece of metal, plastic and glass in your pocket has become something indispensable to all of mankind.
As a reference point, we reported that Earth had 4 billion subscriptions in December 2008. That’s only 21 months ago, in other words 47.6 million subscriptions added per month. That’s a lot of SIM cards.