I promised you we'd pass the 5 Billion active mobile phone subscription level this year. But even I was surprised how rapidly that happened - the past 6 months have seen an acceleration of mobile phone subscriber activations and now we can see to the end of 2010 that we will pass 5.3 Billion by year-end.
Remember the 5 Billon subscriptions are not 'unique users' and all are not actual mobile phones. About a third of those 'real people' who have an active mobile phone account and at least 1 phone - actually have 2 (or more) mobile phone accounts. And of the unique users, about one in seven has two actual mobile phones (like an executive who has a Blackberry from work, who also has a private iPhone).
There were a couple of sources who were announcing the 5 Billion level last month, but I like the Wireless Intelligence statistics, compiled by the GSM Association, which I think is the next best thing this side of the ITU official stats. So yes, forget the 4.6 Billion number, we now talk about 5 Billion active (and paid) mobile phone subscriptions on the planet. Thats the equivalent of one mobile phone subscription for 73% of the total population of the planet. Or to put it another way, if we assume all 'adults' on the planet have a phone, the age point of at what point all have a phone is now at age 14. So 'mathematically' there is a mobile phone subscription for every live human on the planet who is older than age 15 (and falling). That will pass age 13 by year end...
Wireless Intelligence also tells us that the penetration rate leaders are Western Europe where on average there are 130% mobile phones per capita. The laggard is of course Africa, which has already climbed past the half point with 52% penetration rate per capita. Eastern Europe is the only other region to have passed 100%. Cool. And thanks to Joss Gillet who first pointed me to the milestone announcement. To see what other milestones we will shortly pass, visit this blog Dispatches from the Near Future.