To our regular readers, I promise I will keep this short.. In many of our blog entries we reference industry numbers and those for the mobile industry are changing really fast. Many readers have requested one concise collection of all the relevant big picture numbers in one (reasonably short) summary. Here it is...
UPDATE - 5 February 2010: I have written a total industry statistics update which supercedes the information on this blog page. See the full Mobile Industry Stats 2010
Here is the overall total picture of mobile telecoms as an industry, its customers, revenues, services, handsets etc.
CUSTOMERS 4B, CONNECTED PHONES 3.4B, UNIQUE PHONE UISERS 3.1B
January 2009 the total number of mobile phone subscriptions on the planet reached 4 billion. Out of the planet's population there is a subscription for 59%. This subscription count includes all who own multiple phones and multiple subscriptions. So we at TomiAhonen Consulting have been monitoring this development and also reported on unique users and total phones in use. The unique number of mobile subscribers including those who have multiple subscriptions is 3.1 billion people (46% of the planet, this will reach 50% of the planet by end of 2009). That means that 29% of the owners of a mobile phone actually have two or more subscriptions, which often also means two phones. The total number of actual mobile phone handsets is 3.4 bilion. The size of the total subscriber base grew by 19% in the past 12 months - note this includes several months of the economic decline in the world. Mobile is by far the most rapidly expanding industry on the planet.
NEW HANDSETS SELL 1.15B PER YEAR, 15% WERE SMARTPHONES
The industry sold 1.15 billion new mobile phones in 2008 and of those, 15% were smartphones. Out of the total installed base of all mobile phones in use today, 100% can do basic data on SMS, 92% have a basic browser, 90% have a colour screen, 71% can do MMS "picture messaging" and 63% are cameraphones. Smartphones account for only 13% of the total installed base so far but many more phones have some advanced abilities such as removable memory card slots, are Java/BREW capable and have bluetooth. The total industry-wide average replacement cycle for mobile phones reached an all-time record at only 14 months on average, in 2008. This number is likely to slow down in 2009 due to the economic downturn but will continue to be far faster than the replacement cycles of any other electronic gadget including the laptop, the iPod, the Playstaton, etc.
SMS USED BY 3.0B, MMS USED by 1.35B
SMS text messaging continues its growth as by far the most widely used data application on the planet. Today SMS has 3.0 billion active users worldwide. This reflects a growth rate of 23% from the year before. The second most widely used data application is no longer internet based email, it is now MMS picture messaging on mobile phones, which reached a level of 1.35 billion active users globally. Picture messaging is particularly strong as a data, news and entertainment delivery platform in regions where internet penetration rates and PC/laptop ownership levels are low, such as in Asia. In practical terms, any news, entertainment or advertising sent on SMS can reach all 4 billion mobile phone subscribers today and 76% of those people are able to reply to the SMS. MMS can reach phones of 2.4 billion people on the planet and 56% of those people can reply via MMS (and most can reply via SMS). For comparison there are 1.5 billion TV sets on the planet. The global average of SMS text messages sent per day is 2.7 SMS across the total subscriber base and 4.0 SMS messages sent per day when measured against the active user base of SMS text messaging.
MOBILE PREMIUM DATA USED BY 1.7B, BROWSING 1.0B, REAL INTERNET 450 M
There are many measures of what is mobile data and thus how to count users. TomiAhonen Consulting has been monitoring all the major measures and reported on them. Today of the major definitions used, 3.1 B use any kind of mobile data service including SMS text messaging. 2.7 B mobile phone subscribers pay for some premium mobile data service but this number is very misleading as it includes all whose standard monthly package includes a data service even if the subscriber never uses it. Of active users, the best measures are Premium Data users, Browsing users, and Real Internet users. The most restrictive definition is that of Real Internet users, by which the mobile phone subscription and device (including 3G data cards and 3.5G USB dongles for laptop wireless internet access) are used to access the real existing PC based internet. This definition excludes all specific mobile browser use. By this measure there are 450 million who use a mobile phone subscripton to access the real internet. This 450 M user number is the direct cannibalization of PC users and it reflects mostly users who have both a smartphone like an iPhone and a laptop to access the real internet.
The "real internet users" number is drastically misleading, however, and severely under-represents the extent of the shift to mobile data users on browser based services, as most common internet services like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, eBay, Amazon, Wikpedia etc are also available via dedicated mobile browers on WAP and i-Mode. When measuring all mobile browser based services active users, the number is 1.2 billion today. This is the fair comparison of "apples and apples" when contrasting legacy internet use and mobile internet use. For comparison the total installed base of all PCs and laptops is only one billion. More people today access browser-based web-like content and services on a phone worldwide than do so on a PC and via the legacy "real" internet, and the gap is increasing very rapidly as PC sales are strugging but high end and medium phone sales are accelerating and operators are launching better networks and lower price plans. (It must be noted that user times and traffic loads are heavily balanced on the side of PC based broadband internet, of course; and that most who have a PC also have a mobile phone and increasingly are using both to access the internet at least part of the time)
But the mobile services environment is drastically bigger and more capable than the legacy internet, with already many billion-dollar paid subsectors of mobile service categories that are not even economically viable on the internet, such as ringng tones, ringback tones, etc. The total premium data user base is 1.7 billion. This includes all real internet users; all brower based services users; all who download content to a mobile phone such as a videogame or ringing tone; all interactive TV voting and gaming users; all MMS picture messaging users, all mobile commerce and mobile banking users; etc. The best measure for non-SMS users of premium data is also the most relevant measure of active users of mobile media and that is 1.7 billion people today. More than TV sets, about the same size as all who own a credit card. It is important to note that most of the 1 billlion people who access the real internet on a PC will not pay for content or services (other than the broadband access fee). But nearly all of the 1.7 billion who use premium mobile data services pay for them! Twice the number of people pay for premium services on a mobile phone than pay for subscription services on TV ie cable and satellite; and over three times more people pay for premium data on their phone, than buy a daily newspaper worldwide.
MOBILE CONTENT 71B DOLLARS, LED BY MUSIC, GAMING, SOCIAL NETWORKS
The total mobile content industry is now worth 71 billion dollars in annual revenues which is about the same size as the total internet based advertising and content revenues put together. Or to contrast, the mobile content revenues have in only ten years grown to be as big as the global Hollywood movie industry box office revenues, plus the global music recordings industry total sales, plus the videogaming total software sales - combined. Mobile content is by far the fastest growing media category and it grew by 41% in the past 12 months.
The mobile content sector is still led by music and the biggest part of that is still ringing tones but ringback tones are soon poised to become the biggest category of mobile music revenues worldwide. The other big content categories are gaming, social networking, TV and TV-related mobile services such as voting for TV shows, and video sharing services. News, adult entertainment, gambling, jokes etc form also significant revenue streams for mobile.
TOTAL REVENUES 1 T, 800 B IN SERVICES, 200 B IN HARDWARE
The mobile telecoms industry became one of only a handful industries on the planet to generate one Trillion dollars last year and out of that, roughly speaking 800 B is in service revenues (voice and data) and the remaining 200 B in hardware (phone handsets and network infrastructure). Voice accounts for approx 75% of all service revenues or 600 B dollars. Mobile messaging is worth about 130 B and non-messaging data services about 70 B dollars. Of the hardware, a little over 150 B is handsets and a little under 50 B is network infrastructure income to the industry. For contrast, mobile is twice the size of the global TV industry or the total worldwide advertising industry or the total PCIT/nternet industry; as well as twice the size of its former big brother but now little brother, the fixed landline telecoms industry.
That is the mobile industry today. You may freely quote all these numbers, the source for all is Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009 which has all these numbers and finer detail on all of them, in 171 pages and 70 tables and graphs. See sample pages and some more free sample data at this link: Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009.