So finally we have one region hitting that magical 100% penetration rate.
Informa, the industry analyst which reports the national and regional mobile phone subscriber data worldwide, has just revealed that the Western European mobile phone penetration rate has gone past 100%. In the current March 14 issue of Mobile Communications, Informa reports on Western European cellular phone penetration rates, country by country as well as the total Western European penetration rate. With France and Belgium the laggards at 80.6% and 85.6% respectively; and at the high end, leaders Italy (124.6%) and Portugal (118.3%), the Western European average penetration rate of mobile phone subscriptions is now 103.1% effective end of February 2006. Oh, I have excluded the tiny countries like Luxembourg with a penetration rate of 164% as obviously they are not typical for Europe ha-ha..
103%. Amazing statistic. First, for those of our readers who may be familiar with statistics from broadband internet or TV etc. These tend to be measured against household penetration rates. Mobile phone penetration rates are measured "per capita" or in other words they are counted against all living people in the country, including all babies 1 year of age who don't know how to speak and don't understand numbers; as well as the 101 year old greatgrandparents who can't hear and have forgotten numbers.
How is it possible to have 100% (or 124%) penetration rates as obivously the babies will not have phones, and probably many very old people will also not have them. It means that the young employed population carries two (or more) subscriptions. I've isolated the point at about 60%, after which every second new subscription is actually to a second phone. So for example in Germany, with a penetration rate of 92.6%, roughly 76% have one phone and 16% have two phones. Or in the UK, with a penetration rate of 114.8%, roughly 87% have one phone, and 27% have two phones.
For some global contrasts. America is the big laggard with mobile phone penetrations. They are nearing 70%. Canada is dead last among industrialized countries with cellphone penetrations at under 60%. Japan is at about 75% and South Korea over 80%. In Asia Singapore is past 100% but the Asian leaders are Hong Kong and Taiwan both in the 125% range, with Israel also in the 120% region.
China is the biggest single country by cellphone populations and their national penetration rate is at over 30%. India is the fastest-growing country adding a couple of million new subscribers per month but is still under 10%.
Worldwide we are currently at about 2.2 Billion mobile phone users, with a global penetration rate of well over 30%; the cellphone is the most widely spread technology on the planet. Three times as many mobile phones as PCs of any kind, over twice as many mobile phone users as internet users, and more mobile phones than cars, more mobile phone users than people with credit cards. Twice as many people use SMS text messaging worldwide than use e-mail.
So we celebrate 100% penetration rates in Europe. Quite ironic, actually, that Business Week this week has a story about American mobile phone penetration rates being at "near saturation." Utter nonsense ! From their 70% the American market will add at least half as many mobile phones before they are anywhere near saturation. For if the Italians can go past 100% penetration, and the British can do that. And the Swedes. And the Israelis, And the Singaporeans. And the Taiwanese. And the Hong Kongers. And the Portugese, Finns, Danes, Irish, Norwegians, etc. Why on earth would Americans NOT follow the trends seen in absolutely every industrialized country (apart from Canada, which follows a year behind USA).
Still, 100% penetration rate in Western Europe. 402 million mobile phone subscriptions. Thats quite an amazing statistic. Oh, and yes, they are STILL GROWING strong. It doesn't stop here. Even Italy grew last year still at a rate of 12%, so don't think 120% is the "ceiling."