At this blog we give the state of the mobile industry in statistics, at the start of each year, and also give short-term predictions of where the mobile industry is headed. Then we wait for the 'big industry analysts' to come out and verify those numbers.
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
UPDATE Feb 10, 2010 - The TomiAhonen Almanac has now been released, it has 180 pages, 84 charts and tables (13 more than the 2009 edition) with sample stats, first opinions and ordering info at this story TomiAhonen Almanac 2010 Released.
We have several numbers now to report. Lets start with my absolute fave service, SMS text messaging. I told you in January that SMS had 3 billion active users, and that was 76% of all mobile phone users. We have now heard from Portio Research, who do report that SMS total global user base has passed 3 billion users. Portion also reports on the total revenues earned by SMS, and yes, that number has now officially passed 100 billion dollars. Yes, as we told you here before, as of now, the service that is only 16 years old, has grown to such a giant, it is as big as the global music industry, plus the total worldwide movie industry, and the total worldwide videogaming industry - added together. That is 100 billlion dollars. Or to put it another way, its bigger than global radio, or bigger than worldwide book publishing,.. Not bad for a messaging platform that allows only 160 characters per message..
Then I found finally the first analyst to give an update for 2009 for mobile web/mobile internet/mobile browsing usage. Note that this is not "the real internet" on a phone, this is any kind of browsing use, both the "real internet" like say on an iPhone or email on a Blackberry; as well as the "mobile internet" ie WAP usage of what is often operator/carrier portals. Yet, if you accss Google on a phone, regardless of whether via web in the traditional HTML and WWW basis, or via WAP, it is still a browser-based service. Same for Ebay or Yahoo or Twitter or Facebook. Any browser based access on a phone, that is "equivalent" to accessing that same internet service and its (usually mobile-optimimized) mobile site.
So Yankee Group reports that we now have 31% of all mobile phone owners using the mobile web, If you feel that it cannot be, that you don't see that many users around you in your world, remember these are global numbers, so they include of course all those countries where mobile web use is far greater than PC based internet use, such as South Africa or Japan or India etc. And yes, previously it was me and my consultancy saying so, now we have a major analyst house, Yankee Group, giving us the number.
31%? how many users is that worldwide? at the start of the year we had 4.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions on the planet, so at the start of 2009, we had reached the level of 1.27 billion mobile browsing users. Then if you are savvy with internet stats, you may say, but Tomi, the internet user numbers are bigger than that, Are they? Almost all measures of internet use include PC based access, and mobile phone based access, and access from rented computer access, in the form of internet cafe's etc.
We have the actual count of unique users of home and office based PCs at the start of the year 2009, and that comes from ComScore earlier this year, and that was 1 billion unique PC based users of the internet.
And please understand, the usage is different. The PC, often on broadband connections and with unlimited data plans, will produce FAR more data traffic, and often far longer usage hours than mobile web surfing. But also here, the trend is ever more mobile. Twitter and Facebook find that often mobile users have similar usage patterns to PC users, and then mobile seems to grow bigger... Like it did in Japan already a few years ago - Japan was the first Industrialized World country where mobile internet use became bigger than PC based internet usage.
Now, Yankee did not explicitly give that conclusion, that 31% of all global mobile phone users of the mobile web is bigger than the PC based users of the internet, so we have only the 'raw data' so far, but this is the first big research house to say so. Trust me on my numbers (numbers are my buddies), I am solid on this, the facts are coming and don't be surprised. The world already has more "browsing" users who access on a mobile phone, than on any kind of PC worldwide, and from now on, the gap will increase between the two. The legacy PC based "6th mass media" internet, is truly the "little" old internet, and the "mobile internet" is the new bigger and more wealthy internet. The change has happened...(And you should prepare to make business out of this transition, this is a big economic opportunity, this transition). And one more thing, as I keep repeating in my books and lectures - the legacy PC based internet is not going to die, just like TV did not kill cinema and radio did not kill recordings. The old legacy PC based internet will adjust and find its opportunities, even as mobile grows to be the true media giant it is headed to become, Remember SMS, already today, mobile has 3 times more data communiation users than any unique users on the PC based internet...
And for those who would want to understand the full picture of mobile, the difference between subscribers and second subscriptions and unique phones in use, and SMS and MMS, and mobile web, entertainment, news, advertising, etc, you can always pick up a copy of my TomiAhonen Almanac 2009, a very widely referenced industry statistical resource which has of cousre all of these numbers and hundeds more in 70 tables and charts. See sample pages and many stats and charts at Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009.