The big statistics and numbers blog! Its that time of year, the start of a new year, and we have to update and memorize new numbers. For me this annual blog is a kind of honor, a bit like the US president who gives his 'State of the Union' speech to Congress. (The state of our industry is strong!) And the blog article will get very wide coverage throughout the year as the definitive collection of the big numbers in one place.
So lets do a bit of the headline stuff. Two years ago we learned that the richest person on the planet was no longer from the PC industry, Mr Bill Gates of Microsoft in the USA, but that title had been taken over by Mr Carlos Slim, the mobile telecoms tycoon from Mexico whose America Movil network stretches across 240 million people and most of Latin America. Cool. This industry produced the richest person on the planet.
Three years ago I reported that mobile had passed the Trillion dollar level in annual revenues and in so doing, had become in fact the fastest new industry to reach that lofty level - television and radio never became that big, the PC industry and the internet even combined, are not that big today. Print media - all books, magazines and newspapers printed annually - never reached that level. Mobile is not just one of a handful Trillion-dollar size giant global industries like the automobile business or food or construction or banking or military spending; but mobile has set the record for the fastest growth from zero to one Trillion dollars in annual revenues. We have literally witnessed the setting of a world record in growth of any industry. Even as the world went through two economic downturns in the past ten years, mobile grew strongly through both of them.
Then last year we had Apple fighting for the lead for the most valuable corporation by market capitalization (which it has since seized and is now increasing that lead). But few remember that less than two decades ago, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy. They brought back Steve Jobs to rescue the company, and he steered Apple to the mobile future. So much so, that the company whose official name was Apple Computer, and had launched highly successful new series of Macintosh PCs and the iPod music player and iTunes store - changed its name to only 'Apple' when Jobs announced the iPhone. Since then Apple has called itself a 'mobile' company. Today the iPhone delivers more than half of Apple's revenues and most of Apple's profits. Like I say in my seminars and workshops - Mobile is the Magical Money-Making Machine. This is very literally and factually the strongest industry on the planet, with the most robust growth, the strongest profits and thus it is the best place to be for any company or person to build a success.
But its no longer just the PC industry which is excited about mobile. Look at statements from various industry giants outside of technology. Visa said in 2011 that the future of payments is mobile. And they were not talking about contactless payment plastic cards. They were talking about mobile phones. Google's Chairman Eric Schmidt wrote on Harvard Business Review last year, that mobile money is one of Google's top priorities. What? The internet giant known for advertising intends to take on Citibank and American Express and Paypal? In mobile? Yes. Google has been mad about mobile for seven years now, and their internal mantra is 'Mobile First' - meaning that for any Google initiative today, they will deploy the mobile variant first. This from the company that set the record for fastest growth from zero to entering the Fortune 500. And they say the future of the internet and advertising (and money) is.. mobile.
Facebook and Twitter say the future of social networking is mobile. BBC says the future of broadcast is mobile. Tesco's the big UK retailer feels mobile is vital for the future of retail. Gaming is rushing to mobile (Angry Birds, anyone?) and music is already on mobile. Even print media are rushing to embrace mobile from MMS based highlight clips to Augmented Reality enhancements to print editions.
Its not just business. Government is increasingly turning to mobile. Politics is embracing mobile. Healthcare is providing assistance via mobile. Education is using mobile to help in learning. This is by far the most dynamic and most exciting industry to be in. And with that, lets start to dig into the numbers today. All data in this blog is current as of December 31, 2011 and yes, you may freely quote all the data on this blog (please list the source as TomiAhonen Almanac 2012).
5.9 BILLION SUBSCRIBERS
When I left Nokia ten years ago to start my own consultancy, the global mobile phone subscriber count was at 700 million - there were more fixed landline accounts (1 Billion) globally than mobile accounts. The leading countries like Finland, Hong Kong, Austria, Italy and Israel had passed 80% mobile phone penetration rate per capita, and one country, Taiwan was past 90%. Yes it was an exciting time, but even the mobile industry itself did not foresee this incredible growth. The industry expected the world to have 2 Billion mobile phone subscriptions by the end of the decade - a huge growth of tripling in size in one decade. The reality was quite different. By the end of 2010 we had 5.2 Billion mobile phone subscriptions on the planet (prepaid and post-paid, combined). All sensible analysts predicted that the growth rate would slow and nobody expected half of Africa to be connected. How wrong we all were.
Today more than 77 countries have passed 100% mobile phone penetrations per capita including the mobile laggard country, USA which finally reached that level last year. Meanwhile the leading countries continue to push past 150% and past 175% and even yes, past 200% mobile phone penetration rate - as the UAE did becoming the first country with literally two mobile phone accounts for every living person of any age.
The planet has a population of 7 Billion people alive. And now there are 5.9 Billion active mobile phone subscriptions. That is a global penetration rate of 84.3%. To put it another way, if we allocated all mobile phones to every living person by age, starting with the over 100 year olds, and then proceeded down every person alive getting one mobile phone subscription, today the ages we would cover comes down to everybody older than the age of .. eight! Yes, if the 5.9 Billion mobile phone subscriptions were distributed evenly, every single person on the planet age 9 or older, would have one.
Makes you think? In one decade this industry grew more than 8 fold. This mobile industry has sustained a compound annual growth rate of 24% year-on-year for a whole decade! (when measured in its paying customers, obviously, the revenue growth is not quite that dramatic while also good). Even the past year, we grew new customers from 5.2 Billion to 5.9 Billion, adding 700 million new customers in the past year. The whole mobile industry had only 700 million customers a decade ago! The growth rate of adding 700 million new customers to 5.2 Billion is still an enormous 13.5% in just one year.
Compared to the landline cousin, ten years ago fixed landline was the big brother of telecoms, at 50% bigger. Today, if a telephone rings anywhere on the planet the odds are 5 to 1, that the phone ringing is a mobile phone. Yes, the picture is so lopsided, that for 5.9 Billion mobile accounts, there are only 1.1 Billion fixed landline telephones worldwide.
When will we reach 100% per capita mobile phone accounts. Some have started to push early numbers now for 2012. I saw a Cisco projection claiming we'll hit that milestone this year. I think that is premature, but definitely by Spring of 2013, the world will pass that incredible milestone, that when measured per-capita, there will literally be more mobile phone subscriptions than people alive on the planet. I do not think we will see that number this year, but we will definitely see it by Spring of 2013.
4 BILLION UNIQUE USERS, 4.8 BILLION HANDSETS IN USE TODAY
A mobile phone subscription is not a unique user. Some still are astounded by the stats, but yes, increasingly we, perfectly normal people, are walking around with two mobile phones in our pockets. And in many markets the competitive situation is such, that consumers switch between carriers/mobile operators by swapping the SIM card, so you might have two or three or four mobile phone accounts and use one phone. Several manufacturers have introduced Dual SIM phones (mobile phone handsets with slots for two separate SIM cards, allowing the user to switch between two networks without swapping out the cards). The first Triple SIM phones have already appeared.
Just to be clear. Why two phones? Imagine having a phone from work - a Blackberry. But your employer has tight controls on what you can and cannot do on that phone. So you get yourself an iPhone as your private phone. You are now part of the population with two mobile phones (and two mobile phone accounts). If you have a data dongle for your laptop or netbook or iPad - that would be a third cellular mobile account..
I was the first telecoms expert to expose the bizarre concept of multiple phone ownership (because it happened first in Finland and it was first observed by my team when I was employed by the Finnish telecoms operator/carrier group Elisa/Radiolinja/Helsinki Telephone at the time in the late 1990s) and have been reporting on the phenomena ever since. So my consultancy has also provided the most accurate counts of how many of the planet's total mobile users are 'unique' users and how many of those accounts are second and third accounts. This is the far more relevant number to consider on a planetary migration to digital connectedness. How many 'unique' users are there on mobile, after we remove the second phones and the multiple subscriptions.
Its an easy number to memorize for this year - 4 Billion. That is the unique mobile phone user number. That is 57% of the total population of the planet, which very literally - not by statistical gimmicks - very literally do have an active mobile phone subscription (prepaid or post-paid) and at least one mobile phone handset that they use.
And you might ask what of the total number of mobile phone handsets in use. That number will be more than the unique users (some have 2 phones) and it will be less than the 5.9 Billion total subscriber number (because some only have SIM cards on rival networks sharing one phone on them). My consultancy now reports the 2011 number for total active mobile phone handsets in use and with a live paid subscription to be 4.8 Billion. Wow. 4.8 Billion pocketable digital communication devices that are in use on Planet Earth every day. Wow. That is huge.
MOBILE SUBSCRIBERS AND HANDSETS IN USE
Total mobile subscriptions (incl multiples) . . . 5.9 B
Total mobile handsets in use . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.8 B
Total unique mobile phone owners . . . . . . . . 4.0 B
Source TomiAhonen Almanac 2012
This data may be freely quoted
How big is 4.8 Billion? There are 970 million cars registered and in use worldwide. There are 1.1 Billion landline phones. There are 1.3 Billion personal computers of any kind including desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs like the Apple iPad - all combined. There are 2.2 Billion internet users (including office use, home use, shared use at internet cafes and schools etc, and mobile internet users). There are 1.8 Billion television sets and 4 Billion radios in use globally. But 4.8 Billion actual mobile phone handsets in use! Wow, that is an enormous number. Or let me put it this way. If you take all television sets in use in the world, and add all personal computers of any kind including laptops and tablets, and add fixed landlines - their combined total - 4.2 Billion is still less than the 4.8 Billion mobile phone handsets currently in our pockets globally. Massive! Obviously much more on mobile subscribers, also regionally, and by age, and across the Digital Divide in the TomiAhonen Almanac 2012.
THE AVERAGE USER?
So with 4 Billion unique users and 5.9 Billion total mobile subscriptions, clearly there are 1.9 Billion 'second or third' (or fourth etc) accounts. How many of us therefore actually have more than one account? The number is now 1.5 Billion people or 37.5% of the total number of unique users, actually walk around with two SIM cards or more in their pocket. 400 million of those have three or more active mobile subscriptions (mostly pre-paid accounts).
And yes, 3.2 Billion people on the planet who have a mobile phone account, are satisfied (or can only afford) with one handset, but 800 million people already walk around with two phones in their pockets (some ultra-geeks like me have 3 phones, haha, but that number is too small to register in the big picture). So yes, one in five of us, literally 20% of anyone who has a mobile phone, walks around with two connected phones in his or her pockets (and/or purse in the case of the ladies..)
Its no longer 'weird' to have two phones. One fifth of all who have a mobile phone today, actually use two phones daily. Not just two accounts, two actual phones. This is a remarkably different reality from the one imagined by industry thought-leaders a decade ago, when they were planning mobile phone handsets for the future. The mantra was the perfect device, that would do 'everything' but now if we have two devices, we will of course optimize. One is great for texting - has a great QWERTY keyboard like a Blackberry, while the other is great for surfing, has a big touch screen like the iPhone. Or if we love our cameras, we have one camera-optimized phone in one of our pockets like the Nokia N8 or the HTC Titan 2, etc.
And what of the normal user? How many of those mobile phone handsets are smartphones then? Not that many actually. Globally the installed base is still 81% non-smartphones, what I call 'dumbphones'. Some are very advanced 'featurephones' that have cameras, big color screens, full internet browsers, and often improved input methods from QWERTY keyboards to touch-screens. These would typically cost in the 50 to 100 US dollar ranges without any handset subsidy ie no contract. Still others are of the ultra-cheap type that do only voice, SMS and have perhaps some rudimentary functions and facilities - a flashlight/torch, an FM radio and a clock. These can cost under 25 US dollars without subsidy. Many of the phones in use are older, often second hand, so there is a large pool of hundreds of millions of older Nokia models still in circulation especially in the less-affluent countries in the Emerging World. Also our younger kids often get hand-me-down phones which may be a two-year old Samsung or SonyEricsson or indeed an iPhone 3GS.
So 19% of the installed base of handsets globally are smartphones. That is an increasing ratio, last year it was 17%. The new sales of mobile phone handsets this year passed 1.6 Billion units, and 30% of them - 486 million - were smartphones. By the fourth Quarter, ie Christmas sales - a third of all mobile phones sold were smartphones. So we are well on the way on that transition which is now unstoppable, that eventually all handsets in the world will be what we now define as 'smartphones' (but the actual form factors and specifications will of course evolve).
Most who read this blog will have an interest in the Industrialized World, and with us in the most affluent parts of the planet, the migration to smartphones is well along already. In Europe the installed base of smartphones corresponds to a 41% penetration of smartphones per capita. In many individual countries like the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland and Finland, the tipping point has been passed where there is a smartphone now for half the population (bear in mind, with these 'per capita' calculations, we still have the dual phone phenomenon - so in reality some wealthy employed white-collar workers will often have two smartphones). North America passed the point last year where there is a smartphone for one third of the total population per-capita. In advanced countries of Asia-Pacific like here in Hong Kong or Australia and Singapore etc, the penetration rate of smartphones per capita is almost half, at 48%.
This tracks perfectly the sales patterns too. Last year the US market reached the point where half of new phone sales were smartphones. Europe was there a year earlier and advanced countries of Asia-Pacific were reaching the half-point of new handset sales by 2009.
But others of my readers are interested in the Emerging World (or the full global view). So lets not forget that. I can report that in the Middle East the smartphone penetration level per-capita is past one third, at 37%, slightly ahead of North America. Some of the leading countries like Qatar, UAE and Israel are well ahead of the mainstream Europeans and the Asia-Pacific region. Latin America has passed the point of a smartphone for one out of five people, the per-capita penetration rate is 22%. In the less-affluent countries of Asia, which includes most of the big population countries like China, India, Indonesia etc, the smartphone penetration rate is 12% per capita. And in Africa its still in the early days, with smartphone penetration rate of 3% per capita.
How many smartphones will be sold this year? I am projecting about 750 million, which would be about 44% of all new phones sold. The migration is continuing and the global smartphone installed base will pass the 1 billion level by the second quarter of 2012. We will end the year with something between 1.1 Billion and 1.2 Billion smartphones in use worldwide, which starts to approach the installed base of all personal computers of any kind including desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs like the iPad.
While everyone obsesses about the iPhone and Android (and Windows haha) the global installed base of smartphones by operating system is still dominated by Symbian. Not for long, because of Nokia's suicidally stupid move to end Symbian last year, while it towered over all rivals - and was growing new sales strongly - but yes, even now, more than one year after the infamous Burning Platforms memo that destroyed Symbian's (and Nokia's) future, this is the picture of the installed base:
Installed Base of Smartphones by Operating System 2011
1 - Nokia Symbian . . . . . 33%
2 - Google Android . . . . . 31%
3 - Apple iPhone . . . . . . 16%
4 - RIM Blackberry . . . . . 12%
5 - Samsung bada . . . . . . 3%
6 - MS Windows Mobile . . 2%
7 - MS Windows Phone . . 1%
Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3%
TOTAL IN USE . . . . . . 910 Million
Source TomiAhonen Almanac 2012
This data may be freely quoted
If you want to see the actual market shares of new sales for the various smartphone handset maker brands and the operating systems for full-year 2011 or the latest quarterly sales numbers, please see this, my comprehensive blog article about smartphone market shares. And if you are interested in national smartphone penetration rates, I have that too. The top 3 for most smartphones per capita are Singapore, Hong Kong and Sweden. The chart for 42 country penetration rates in 2011 is here. Much more data about smartphones including regional data, market shares, handset features, age distribution etc in TomiAhonen Almanac 2012.
Last year 2011 was the first time that more smartphones were sold than all types of personal computers added together including desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs like the iPad. I have also been calculating the global 'computer manufacturer' market shares annually, when smartphone shipments are included in the overall numbers. The chart for last year for the biggest PC makers with smartphones included is here. And for those who need all the nitty-gritty about mobile phone handsets, feature sets, market shares, regional penetration rates, and market sizes for the major countries, the obvious total data source is the Tomi Ahonen Phone Book 2010.
WHAT DO WE DO ON MOBILE?
So what do we do on our mobile phones? The obvious answer used to be 'we make voice calls' and some smartphone users might say 'download apps' or perhaps that we 'surf on the web'. That is all fine and good, but the truth of the matter is that last year marked a major milestone in the 'mobile' industry, where the primary use of the mobile handset is no longer voice calls - and no, its not apps nor is it web surfing either. The primary use worldwide - and the one with most users today - is SMS text messaging. Yes, last year, only 18 years after SMS text messaging was first offered as a commercial service for consumers, our favorite messaging method has passed voice calls in total users. SMS text messaging is used by 85% of mobile phone users - 5.0 Billion people - vs voice calls that are only used by 83% of mobile phone users (4.9 Billion people). Apps and mobile web come far lower on our list of preferences. And its good to see that even the USA is finally embracing SMS wholeheartedly. Pew reported in 2011 that the active user level of SMS text messaging had reached 88% of US cellphone owners. That compares to 90% in Pakistan, 91% in Brazil, 91% in China, 96% in Indonesia. Most of Europe has passed the 90% user level years ago for SMS text messaging.
So its time to end calling it a mobile 'phone' (or cellular 'phone') - because voice calls are no longer the most used service on our mobile handset devices. I am trying to learn to call the device just a 'mobile'. But lets talk about SMS text messaging a bit. First how big is 5.0 billion? Compared to total email users - SMS is three times bigger. Compared to all landline telephones? SMS is 4 times bigger. Compared to facebook? Over 5 times bigger. Active users? SMS text messaging grew users last year from 4.2 billion to 5.0 billion ie 16% growth in total paying users. In just one year! The traffic in SMS text messages grew even more - by 18% and while the carriers/operators kept giving huge bundles of 'free' SMS messages in various pricing packages, the revenues of SMS globally? Still grew 5% last year reaching 126 Billion dollars worldwide! The SMS industry earns a fresh new million dollars every four minutes of every day, day and night, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. SMS alone is bigger than Hollywood movies and the global music industry and videogaming - all added together. Or to put it another way, SMS text messaging alone is bigger than the revenues of the global radio broadcast industry. Not bad for an 18 year old haha.
DON'T FORGET MMS
And then we have the other monster mobile messaging success, MMS picture messaging. The versatile MMS is exceptionally well suited for various media and advertising uses, but also has a growing user base in consumers who send pictures. The usage of MMS has now passed 43% of the total mobile subscriber base and at 2.5 Billion active users, MMS now has more users than the total of people who access the internet by any method (at work, at home, at shared computers at libraries, schools and internet cafes; and via mobile internet). MMS became the second most used data service on the planet last year. And what a service. MMS user base grew by 21%, and MMS revenues grew by 15% reaching 39 Billion dollars last year! Much of the premium revenues are generated by various media and advertising uses as media brands learn that MMS answers most media issues with SMS - MMS allows longer texts than 160 characters of SMS; and MMS allows adding sounds, pictures and video clips. MMS is also an increasingly popular transport vehicle for coupons, offers, tickets, boarding passes, receipts etc
WHAT OF MOBILE DATA?
You may have heard some say that soon there will be more users of the internet on moble phones than on the PC. Those 'experts' are severely misguided. We passed that milestone two years ago as reported widely from IBM to Nokia. Now we have the latest count of browser based service use on mobile handsets for 2011. Today the number of mobile internet users (including WAP) is 30% of all mobile subscribers - and thus 1.8 Billion total people worldwide - browse internet content on their mobile devices at least part of the time (in the Industrialized World most of us will also have access to a traditional PC). Still out of all 2.2 Billion internet users worldwide today, less than 400 million use a PC exclusively. Over 1 Billion use both a mobile device and a PC to access the internet - and in 2011, 800 million use a mobile handset exclusively as the internet access device. In six of the world's ten largest internet user countries the mobile use is bigger than traditional PC based use (China, Japan, UK, India, Russia and South Korea).
And what of news? An astonishing milestone also has now passed. The global user base of news and alert services on mobile is 1.9 Billion. Why is that a relevant number? Yes, its four times more than the total circulation of all daily newspapers worldwide - so even accounting for three readers per newspaper, mobile news still now has more (paying) users than total readership (paid and free-loading) of all newspapers printed. But that is not the astonishing number. Now mobile news has passed the total number of television sets in use globally! No wonder the Associated Press Managing Editors declared in September of 2011, that mobile was the future of news.
How about advertising then? Sure. That too is exploding globally. JP Morgan told us a year ago that the total value of all mobile advertisingin 2010 globally was 11.5 Billion dollars. I now have the update to that number, for 2011 that was 14.4 Billion dollars (including advertising on various new ad platforms such as the branded smartphone apps etc). How many people receive ads on their phones? 3.4 Billion people worldwide, or 58% of all mobile phone owners. Most of that is now banner advertising, with SMS text messaging based ads second, MMS third and the rest such as search, location-based ads, adver-gaming, branded smartphone apps, etc making up the rest. For those in the marketing and advertising (and perhaps media) industries who would like to understand mobile advertising more, please see Tomi Ahonen Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising.
WHAT DO WE DO ON OUR PHONES?
Here is an abbreviated chart is exceprted from the brand new TomiAhonen Almanac 2012 of the types of activities we do on our mobile phones today, as a percentage of all mobile phone subscribers:
PERCENT WHO USE MOBILE SERVICE/FUNCTION
SMS text messaging . . . . . 85% . . . 5.0 B
Voice calls . . . . . . . . . . . . 83% . . . 4.9 B
Camera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71% . . . 4.2 B
Received Advertising . . . . . 58% . . . 3.4 B
MMS picture messaging . . 43% . . . 2.5 B
News and alerts . . . . . . . . 32% . . . 1.9 B
Browsing (incl WAP) . . . . . 30% . . . 1.8 B
Premium SMS (incl voting) . 28% . . . 1.7 B
Download apps (incl Java) . 18% . . . 1.1 B
Source: TomiAhonen Almanac 2012
This data may be freely quoted
Note for example the active user base of cameraphone based digital cameras at 4.2 Billion (or 71% of all mobile phone users). It is four times more than the installed base of all non-phone based cameras on the planet, including digital and film based stand-alone cameras and videocameras, combined. Much more such user info in the new TomiAhonen Almanac 2012 if you need more data.
The mobile has become indispensible for us. Its more than a communication device, it now has our clock and alarm, it has our calendar and reminders. We use the camera not just to take 'traditional pictures' but also as a memory tool taking pictures of what we should remember to buy at the store and where we parked the car. We store vital information at the phone book and we store valued SMS text messages with information such as addresses and parts numbers etc, to the romantic message that so touched us that we want to keep it forever. Nokia reported a year ago that the average person looks as a phone 150 times per day. For every waking hour, that means you and I look at our phone once every 6.5 minutes. Those heavily addicted teenagers do it even more - although they are so proficient at their phones, they often don't need to look at the phone to send their messages.
SO WHERE IS THE MONEY?
Ever since my second book (M-Profits the first business book for the mobile industry) my obsession with this industry has of course always been the money. Where are the revenues, how are the profits generated. And even while many still are hyping the smartphone apps space, that is not where the money is. The mobile industry is a juggernaut. The mobile industry is the youngest Trillion-dollar sized giant industry on the planet, and reached that level only three years ago. Last year the world economy grew between 3% and 4% in size. In the same period, the mobile industry grew revenues by 10%. The mobile industry is now worth 1.3 Trillion dollars (1,300 Billion dollars).
Most of those revenues are earned by the carriers/operators whose total revenues last year passed 1.02 Trillion dollars. 651 Billion of that was in voice call revenues and 186 Billion was in various mobile messaging service revenues. 179 Billion dollars was in premium data services. Beyond the operator/carrier revenues, there was also equipment sales consisting of handsets, networks and various accessories.
MOBILE INDUSTRY REVENUES 2011
Operator Revenues . . . 1,016 B
- Voice Revenues . . . . 651 B
- Messaging Revenues . 186 B
- - SMS revenue . . . . . 126 B
- - MMS revenue . . . . . 39 B
- VAS Data Revenue . . 179 B
Handset Sales . . . . . . 185 B
Other hardware sales . . 95 B
TOTAL INDUSTRY . . . 1,300 B
Source: TomiAhonen Almanac 2012
This data may be freely quoted
So yes, the very first mobile telecoms service as we know it, on a cellular network service, was launched commercially (in Japan, by NTT) in 1979. It took this industry only 29 years to breach the 1 Trillion dollar level. So we have been witness to the establishment of a world record in the fastest growth of any new industry. No wonder the world's richest person is now Carlos Slim of America Movil and high tech companies from Apple to Google say their future is in mobile.
And what are the companies that lead this industry? I also provide the listing of the biggest global corporations - when their non-mobile business is removed. So after we remove the Macintosh PCs from Apple and remove the plasma-screen TVs from Samsung and remove the fixed landline business from Vodafone, who are the biggest companies on their 'pure mobile' business. The latest top 10 list of the biggest companies purely on their mobile revenues looks like this:
BIGGEST COMPANIES WHEN ONLY COUNTING THEIR MOBILE BUSINESS
1. China Mobile, China, operator . . . . . . . $ 77 B
2. Verizon Wireless, USA, operator . . . . $ 72 B
3. Vodafone Mobile, UK, operator . . . . . . $ 66 B
4. AT&T Wireless, USA, operator . . . . . . $ 58 B
5. Telefonica Movil, Spain, operator . . . . . $ 55 B
6. T-Mobile, Germany, operator . . . . . . . . $ 49 B
7. Orange Mobile, France, operator . . . . . $ 48 B
8. Nokia Mobile, Finland, handsets . . . . . $ 45 B
9. Apple iPhone, USA, smartphones . . . . $ 42 B
10. Samsung Mobile, S Korea, handsets . $40 B
Source: TomiAhonen Almanac 2012
This data may be freely quoted
That is the Top 10. I published the Top 25 on this blog earlier if you want to see that, and to find out more about my quirky names for some of those imaginary companies, and how they would rank in the Fortune 500 etc.
ABOUT THOSE APPS
I have been monitoring the despair of the app developers in attempting to monetize the smartphone app space. Apple is about to celebrate its 25 Billionth iPhone app download but before you cheer that big milestone, bear in mind, Apple has only paid out a total of 4 Billion dollars so far. So Apple, the most successful app store, in its four years of existence, has only generated 5.7 Billion dollars of total revenues cumulatively (of which Apple kindly keeps 30%). Those 25 Billion downloaded apps have shared 4 Billion dollars of developer revenues in total or about 20 cents per downloaded app. Its not a way to get rich, if the median app gets under 1,000 downloads (meaning, half of all apps out there get even less than that). Obviously most apps on the App Store are free apps, so yes, the numbers are somewhat better for the paid apps, but this is no goldmine. I have been cautioning audiences globally to beware of the app store opportunity, it is a treacherous one, and its not anywhere near the easiest way to make money in mobile. And while we are on those numbers, the total smartphone app revenues in 2011 were now 12 billion yes, but those were not all 'app store' type of consumer apps.
Like in years past, the majority of the smartphone app revenues were still generated by enterprise/business apps, such as those for the Blackberry enterprise users, sold often with licenses counted in the thousands or more. Consumer apps associated with 'app stores' only were worth 5 Billion dollars last year, 2011, and enterprise apps were worth 7 Billion dollars, giving us the grand total of 12 Billion dollars last year for all types of smartphone apps. 12 Billion may seem big perhaps. But before you get excited about that number - all apps revenues formed only 4% of the total mobile data revenues opportunity last year. Yes, you are far better off going where the big opportunities lie such as in gaming, news, social networking, music, television related services (like TV voting) etc. That is why Coca Cola has a rule of 70:20:10 about their mobile strategy - they put 70% of their mobile dollars to SMS and MMS mobile messaging; they invest only 20% to the mobile internet; and only 10% in mobile apps. Or the simple way to say it, is like US food giant Kraft, whose mobile strategy is 'no mobile left behind.' They too start with SMS and MMS, then do mobile web (and WAP) and only after no mobile has been left behind, do they bother with the apps side of smartphones. Similar thinking is with Finnair the airline that invented the mobile check-in and a similar mobile philosophy is for example used by the German railway system.
Incidentially where is the strongest growth in profits and revenues, if not in apps? Its in mobile social networking (think Facebook and Farmville but on mobile). And conveniently, if you so desire, I have a book for you on that, with 50 case studies of excellence in user-generated content, citizen journalism, virtual worlds, dating, flirting, picture sharing, multiplayer gaming, social networking etc. The ebook is called called Tomi Ahonen Pearls Vol 2: Mobile Social Networking.
WHO IS THE LEADER? JAPAN OF COURSE
This is a difficult complex industry - far more complex than rocket science actually - and very difficult to fully comprehend. But the industry was launched in Japan, and for most of the commercially viable innovations of this young industry, Japan and Finland have taken turns in the leadership, with South Korea, Sweden and Norway often also playing major parts. But recently some innovation has come from the USA, especially relating to those smartphone apps (even though, some of the most successful - like Angry Birds by Rovio comes from Finland - or the most futuristic and innovative - like Layar the Augmented Reality Browser comes from the Netherlands). So it becomes difficult to know where to go to see the future in mobile. Where is the leadership? I have done the math for you. I use a formula which combines the four most used measures of mobile industry leadership (mobile subscription penetration rate, the generation(s) of the networks in use, the adoption of mobile data services, and the level of how advanced the handset installed base is, ie smartphone penetration rate). The world's leading mobile country once again was Japan for 2011, here is the Top 10 list as I calculated it:
1 - Japan
2 - South Korea
3 - Singapore
4 - Italy
5 - Finland
6 (tie) - Sweden
6 (tie) - Taiwan
8 - Austria
9 - Hong Kong
10 - Australia
Source: TomiAhonen Almanac 2012
This data may be freely quoted
If you were looking for the USA, it didn't make the top 10 but is ranked 17th (up from 19th in 2010). You can see the Top 20 list here, and the Top 30 list with far more information is of course in the TomiAhonen Almanac 2012.
IT ONLY GETS BETTER
But its not ending there. The world's largest lock-maker, Assa-Abloy is deploying locks for hotels and homes that can be operated by mobile phone. Google, Nokia, Vodafone and many more mobile giants are in a race to deploy mobile money solutions around NFC Near Field Communciations, a new technology coming to our phones - 19% of Japanese already make such payments.. daily. You may have heard of the border-crossing incident on the US-Canadian border where a stranded visitor had lost his passport, but had a scan of it on his iPad and was allowed to pass over the border. I have been saying for some time now, that in the future our passports will be on our phones. But today, I advise all friends and collagues to make scans of our passports and driver's licenses and save them on our phones, just in case you are in a similar situation. While such a scanned image is not necessarily legally valid, it is far better than nothing - and if you have a good cameraphone (5 megapixel or better) all you need is good sunlight, take a picture of your passport and driver's licence and save them onto your phone(s).
Meanwhile the innovation in mobile is relentless. Turkey became the second country after Spain, to accept SMS based signatures as legally binding in contracts last year. Estonia became the second country after Norway to accept SMS based tax returns! And after Sweden launched it, there is now a race for which country is the first to stop the manufacturing of coins and banknotes altogether - replaced by mobile money. Kenya has passed the point where 30% of its GDP is now going through mobile phone money accounts. The 'usual suspects' are in the race of course including Finland, Norway and Estonia; including Japan and South Korea; including the Philippines and South Africa; as well as some less obvious countries like the Netherlands and Somaliland. But the first country to give a target date for when they expect to eliminate cash is Turkey - and they said in November of 2011, that their target year is 2025. That is only 13 years from now!
If we go back 13 years to 1998, that was the year of the movie Titanic and when Bill Clinton had his Monica Lewinski scandal. Google was launched that year. Tony Blair was Britain's Prime Minister. And now only a similar amount of time into the future, we may see the first country to end the manufacturing of cash (and this being a race, it may actually happen a little bit earlier in some other ambitious country). Wow. After several thousand years, we will be the generation to see the end of cash as a monetary instrument, in our lifetimes. Killed by mobile. And yes, if you needed to read a quick book about mobile money and payments, check out my Pearls Vol 3: Mobile Money.
My dear friend and fellow mobile statistician and forecaster, the author Chetan Sharma says the world will change more in the next 10 years, than it has in the previous 100 years. The driving force in that change is mobile, as mobile is a robust, economically sound industry, not clinging desperately to some advertising-based revenues alone. This is the best economic opportunity of our lifetimes. And not just in strict monetery terms, obviously also if your passion is in education, please substitute 'learning' for profits; or if you are in m-health, consider healthcare benefits rather than revenues. And so forth. But this is the richest and most rewarding opportunity and the epicenter of creativity. No wonder Google's Chairman Eric Scmidt says 'Put your best people on mobile'.
UPDATE 29 FEB - I have announced the release of the TomiAhonen Almanac 2012. With that publication I added some exclusive data from the Almanac with four charts (out of 96) published in total and some other excerpted sample data from the Almanac. You may find the data useful especially if you are interested in the mobile internet, gaming, music, handset installed base, or the 'Digital Divide'. See more here TomiAhonen Almanac 2012 Released.
This article is using data from the brand new edition of my annual statistical volume for this industry, published in ebook format, called the TomiAhonen Almanac 2012. You may freely quote any of the data in this article, please mention the TomiAhonen Almanac 2012 as your source. And if you are interested, the Almanac has over 90 tables and charts, is a 184 page ebook. conveniently formated for the small screens of smartphones so you can carry all the stats in your pocket with you and only costs 9.99 Euros for immediate download. Please see more including sample pages at this link TomiAhonen Almanac 2012.
If you need more information about the handset side of the industry, my Tomi Ahonen PhoneBook 2010 is still very current with all the data about cameraphone resolutions, screen sizes, smartphone operating system market shares etc. Similarly formated and priced 9.99 Euros, also at over 90 tables and charts in an 180 page ebook, the sister volume to the Almanac, focusing only on the handsets side of our industry is the Tomi Ahonen PhoneBook 2010.