The nice thing with a strongly-growing giant industry is, that all the numbers keep growing, eh? The unfortunate side effect is, that almost any number you bother to memorize, becomes obsolete within months... But lets do this again. All major mobile numbers, now updates for End of Year 2012:
6.7 BILLION MOBILE SUBSCRIPTIONS IE 94% PENETRATION RATE FOR PLANET PER CAPITA
This is the big number. Update all your slides, we now are at 6.7 Billion active mobile phone 'subscriptions'. Obviously that is not in reality 94% of humans, as many of us have two phones or even three or more cellular connections (two smartphones and a tablet PC for example) and in many especially Emerging World markets, it is quite common to get prepaid SIM cards on every major network, and then do the 'SIM-card-switch' between the networks depending on who to call or send a message to.
But yes, the 'Mobile Moment' is nearly upon us, as I said, that will come in 2013, when there will be as many active mobile phone subscriptions as human beings alive (this of course includes contract based 'post-paid' accounts and 'pre-paid' SIM cards, and the uses of cellular subscriptions for other non-human uses like Machine-to-Machine and the 3G cellular connectivity of our data dongles and datacards and our tablets and netbooks, all added together).
The mobile industry added about 700 million new paying mobile subscriptions/accounts/SIM cards this year. The growth in mobile alone is about three times the installed base of all tablet PCs including iPads and all its rivals, combined. The growth alone, three times the installed base of tablets. Lets not pretend the tablets PC market is anything more than a niche, a nice healthy niche for PC makers, but tablets still don't even sell as many as laptops annually... smartphones alone, ignoring all other mobile phones 'featurephones' that mostly also have full HTML web browsers, yes, just counting smartphoes alone, they outsell tablets this year by roughly speaking 10 to 1.
6.7 Billion mobile phone users (allowing for overlap). There has never ever EVER been any industry as widely spread as mobile is today - and it grew 11% this year by paying customers. This industry is viciously profitable - the most profitable company on the planet used to call itself a PC company, 'Apple Computer' but now just calls itself a 'mobile' company. The wealthiest man on the planet is no longer Bill Gates of the PC industry, it is Carlos Slim the boss of America Movil the massive mobile empire across Latin America and now expanding into Europe.
So then lets dig into the numbers. 6.7 Billion is the aggregate number of mobile subscriptions, when we allow for multiple subscriptions. How many unique mobile phone users are there in the planet. The 'real' count of our market, when duplicates are removed? It is now up to 4.3 Billion unique humans. Yes, 61% of the planet's population, no mathematical cheating, six out of ten humans on the planet does have a mobile phone in their pocket, connected to a mobile network. So 2.4 Billion of all mobile phone subscriptions in use, are duplicates, second, third and even fourth or fifth accounts for those unique users. 36% of all active mobile acccounts now are redundant connections for us, above and beyond our primary mobile connection.
Or to put it in a more meaninful way, it means, mathematically that the average mobile phone user today globally, has 1.56 accounts or SIM cards. Yes, this was a mystery to our American cousins still very recently but the phenomenon that I first discovered out of Finland and has happened in every country that passes the 60% penetration level, we do see it in most countries now. More than 100 countries have passed 100% penetration level. The United States joined this club last year, Taiwan and Hong Kong passed the 100% penetration level eleven years ago, Finland, Singapore and Italy did it ten years ago. The UAE was the first country to report mobile subscriptions passing 200% and now several countries are joining that group such as Hong Kong, Panama and Macao, with Saudi Arabia just on the brink.
5.3 BILLION MOBILE HANDSETS
And somewhere between the absolute ceiling of total active subscriptions, and above the floor of unique users, lies the number of total mobile phone handsets in use. My consultancy has also provided this number since it was first measured, and reports now that for 2012 the number is .. 5.3 Billion total handsets in use globally. So 4.3 Billion unique mobile users, walk around with 5.3 Billion phones. That means, the average mobile phone user has 1.23 handsets (think iPhone user who also has a Blackberry from work). And as each of the 5.3 Billion handsets does have a connection, the excess 'SIM card only' population of 'second and third accounts' is thus 1.4 Billion or 21% of all active mobile accounts are 'only SIM cards' without a regularly associated handset (used temporarily in a handset that is more used by another network). Yes, one in five mobile phone accounts are 'purely promiscuous' customers, you can understand the mobile operators/carriers are increasingly frustrated with their loyalty programs and attempting to identify who are the loyal customers and who are promiscuous...
1.3 BILLION SMARTPHONES
So then the hot story in mobile for the past few years, our smartphone addiction. You would be forgiven for thinking every phone by now is a smartphone, yet the numbers, while showing enormous growth, indicate that only 1.3 Billion smartphones are in use today. That is 25% of all handsets in use worldwide. Yes, you read that correctly. Globally speaking, three quarters of all people who use a mobile phone, does NOT have a smartphone, not an iPhone, not a Galaxy or Blackberry or Lumia. No, three out of four humans using a mobile phone, uses a 'dumbphone' - many of which have good cameras, large color touch-screens and full HTML internet browsers, and can download Java games including Angry Birds, but are not smartphones. The smartphone population grew enormously in the past year but is only at 1.3 Billion worldwide.
1.3 BILLION CONNECT VIA 3G VS 1.1B VIA WIFI
The connectivity of our handsets and data devices is still more driven by cellular than wireless. 3G and faster cellular networks account for 1.3 Billion total global mobile connections ie 19% of all subscriptions, and WiFi is used by 1.1 Billion or 16%. As a percentage of handsets in use, 25% of all handsets now connect to 3G or faster cellular networks (note, a far higher percentage of the phones are capable of 3G connectivity, but the network operators/carriers have not all yet deployed 3G to all regions and many consumers have not upgraded to the data plans that 3G network services often require). WiFi meanwhile is used by 21% of all handsets in use globally. I might add, that the 'traffic' measured via WiFi is vastly greater than that through 3G, as most 3G plans are metered or have usage limits, but WiFi tends to be 'all you can eat' so often the heaviest usage is done in free WiFi hotspots. Don't confuse usage measurements with user measurements.
5.6 BILLION USE SMS TEXTING
And for those who were spreading words of doom and the end of SMS, we have news. Predictable news. SMS text messaging total global user base grew again last year. Up now to 5.6 Billion total users, up 11% from last year. What's with Whatsapp and iMessage and Blackberry Messenger and Facebook and Skype messengers? They all have only a fraction of the smartphone and 3G/WiFi user number, all of those have well under 1 Billion mobile users today, and are not cross-service usable. You have to join a given messaging service, and get your friends to join the same one. But SMS works on all phones. That is why the very latest measured user data from smartphone users in the USA, UK etc, tell us that the vast overwhelming majority of smartphone users with one or more of those messaging platforms - still continues to use SMS text messaging.
Make no mistake, the heaviest users of SMS have shifted most of their heavy messaging traffic away from SMS to the more efficient msssaging platforms. Several countries report a decline in total SMS traffic this year for the first time. But globally, the number of SMS users, the total number of messages sent, and the revenues earned by SMS still all grew in 2012. Yes, SMS total user base grew by 11% this year. In almost any other industry, if you grew 11% in one year you'd have a highlight year of huge bonuses. Imagine airlines or hotels or the cola drinks or shampoo or ice cream industry, they don't grow 11% per year in new users. SMS text messaging did, in 2012. Yet there are 'pundits' and 'experts' who write about the death to SMS. Haha. That may be coming. But its not here yet. Not this year and not in 2013 either...
VOICE CALLS ON MOBILE 5.4 BILLION USERS
Globally, as a percentage of all subscriptions, SMS is the most used mobile service (yes, used more than voice calls) and used by 83% of the mobile phone subscribers. Voice calls come in second, at 5.4 Billion users and 81% of all mobile users. So don't make the mistake of calling it anymore a 'mobile phone' or 'cellphone' - it is no longer primarily a 'portable telephone' - our mobile today, globally, is first and foremost a messaging device, with voice calls a highly used optional extra.. Call it a 'mobile' but not a 'mobile phone'. And yes, you read that correctly. Out of all mobile subscriptions active on the planet, for 19% there is no use for voice calls at all. Some of these are data connections to our laptops, some are 'M2M' Machine-to-Machine connections like our smart electric meters or the irrigation systems operated by SMS like used in India etc. And many more, are mobile handset users, who don't need voice, at least, not traditional cellular voice (they may well use Skype occasionally, but not traditional mobile/cellular voice). But they do use SMS text messaging and other features on the phone..
CAMERA USED BY 72%
The camera on a mobile phone is now used by 4.8 Billion people worldwide. Understand this for context - out of all people who have ever used any kind of camera in their lifetimes, for 12 out of 13 persons who ever used a camera, the only type of camera they ever used, was that on a cameraphone. Not the traditional stand-alone Canons, Nikons, Olympuses etc. Yes, for 12 out of 13 persons on the planet who ever took even one picture, the only camera they every used, was some kind of cameraphone camera. Don't tell me the cameraphone is a toy. Only one person in 13 who has taken pictures, has ever used a 'stand alone' camera either digital or film-based, and most of those will also take at least some pictures on their smartphones too... Oh, and lets look at per capita globally? Two thirds of the planet now have a cameraphone in their pockets, yes 68% penetration rate of cameraphones per capita, across the planet.
The planet has 1.6 Billion personal computers (this includes tablet PCs) - each with a screen. The world has 2 Billion television sets, each with a screen. Toss in 250 million portable gaming devices with a screen. And call it 300 million digital cameras with a screen. Thats under 4.2 Billion electronic devices that have a screen, in most cases, a color screen. And in our pockets, we have 4.8 Billion cameraphones, each with a color screen. Wow. For the planet, the mobile is 'the first screen' so to speak...
4 BILLION RECEIVED ADS IN THEIR POCKET THIS YEAR
And the world's largest advertsing platform and media is... no longer radio. It is now mobile! Yes, in 2012, 4.0 Billion people - a whole 60% of all mobile subscribers - and 56% of human beings alive - have received advertsing on their phones. How can that be if smartphones are only used 1.3 Billion and even web-browsers are used by 2.1 Billion (which has mostly overlap with those smartphones)? Its because the world's most widely used advertising format is.. SMS text messaging, of course. And number 2? Is not web banner ads, is MMS picture messaging (or more correctly, as MMS can do videos, sounds, long texts, web links and pictures, it is as the name is called, Multimedia Messaging Service). Even ringback tones have hundreds of millions of advertising audiences. So don't think that mobile ads are only with your gaming apps and banner ads and pre-roll video interruptions. Most humans who received ads on their phones this year, did so via SMS and MMS, not apps or the web banners...
MMS HAS 2.9 BILLION ACTIVE USERS
And then lets go to MMS. If you liked SMS and are a media brand or advertiser or consumer oriented company, you will love MMS. MMS can be used, yes to send pictures from one phone to another - but is a clumsy and costly and unreliable way to do that. Better ways exist especially for all who have data plans and smartphones and good mobile web services or social networking and picture sharing services. Not all mobile phone users have that, some use MMS yes, just to send a few pictures to their family and friends. Grandparents for example sending pictures of the cool Aston Martin they saw parked on the street that they know the 9 year old grandson would love to see. That is not the main market for MMS and where its growth and market is.
MMS is a multimedia platform. It is perfectly suited for news, entertainment, video, audio, pictures, long text messages, weblinks, QR codes, and yes, advertising. For delivering amazing, highly beloved, widely distributed, highly personal, relevant and timely advertising. Where good ad campaigns get routinely above 25% response rates !!! Routinely !!! Not the pathetic and hated banner ads that on mobile might yield you 4% click-through rates (and mind you, even the hated banner ads on mobile - do 10x better than their online cousins the banner ads do on the web).
MMS is the ultimate 'Engagement Marketing' platform and countless mobile ad players from Blyk to OutThereMedia to Optism to Qustodian know this and use MMS to its fullest power. If you are in media or any consumer-oriented business and are ignoring the digital interactive platform that has more active users than the global internet.. 50% more users than the total number of television sets on the planet - you do so at your own peril. Don't expect to remain employed till the end of this decade, however. 43% of all mobile phone subscribers are using MMS, globally. The 2.9 Billion total MMS user base is more astonishingly 41% of all human beings alive! MMS is the most wide-reaching multimedia platform on the planet.
2.3 BILLION CONSUME NEWS ON MOBILE
Why was it that the Associated Press Managing Editors' Conference concluded about a year ago, that the future of news is not the internet, it is mobile? And why they say that while newspapers were unable to monetize the internet, they are able to do so on mobile? Because of the numbers. The total number of mobile phone subscribers who consume news on their phones is now 34%. Or yes, 2.3 Billion people almost one in three humans alive (remember, this is all humans, counting from babies to great-grandparents) yes, 32% of all humans alive now consume news on their mobiles. Newspapers now send tomorrow's headlines today via MMS and SMS as premium services to their readers. You don't have even to be literate to get news on mobile, voice based news services are very popular in many countries, serving multiple language groups, on premium voice channels as subscription services. And yes, to put it in context these are PAID news users, 2.3 Billion on mobile. Compare to total paid subscription TV services (all formats, entertainment, movies, music, news, etc) of about 1 Billion or total newspaper circulations worlwide of only 430 million. But 2.3 Billion pay to get news on their mobiles. No wonder the Associated Press says the future of news is mobile.
2.1 BILLION USE ANY KIND OF MOBILE BROWSER INCL WAP, 1.5 BILLION USE 'REAL' INTERNET
So then the big internet number? The world has 2.5 Billion internet users now at the end of 2012. And look at that number - 2.1 Billion access browser-based internet content on a mobile handset! Yes, that includes the crude basic WAP browsers, that still populate very low-cost and old hand-me-down second hand phones many use in Africa and India etc. But yes, out of all internet users today, 84% access internet content at least part of the time using a mobile phone (including WAP). And 2.1 Billion mobile internet users (when WAP is included) means 31% of all mobile subscribers.
And then lets address the purists, who think we should only consider HTML 'real internet' even as most familiar browser-based internet services like Google Search, Facebook etc are available also via WAP - but yes, lets do 'real internet' on mobile. How many? 1.5 Billion ie 60% of all internet users, and 22% of all mobile subscribers. Note that this is still well above the total count of smartphones and 3G and WiFi users, because many featurephones have full HTML browsers, and especially in many Emerging World countries, even where 3G is not available, a 2.5G based cellular internet connection, at considerable cost, is far cheaper than attempting an unreliable landline based 'fixed' internet connection, at huge costs and often severe service disruptions.
To put this in another way. We know 400 million internet users do not use a mobile phone, they are 'pure' legacy PC based internet users, or down to only 16% of all internet users (remember, this was 100% of internet users only 13 years ago). There are 1.6 Billion PCs of any kind (desktops, laptops, tablets) and by today, almost all of those are connected to the web (not quite, but we can round it off now to 100%). And about 200 million more who share their access on the PC ie using an internet cafe etc. So 1.8 Billion who use the PC at least some of the time or 72%. Thus 28% of worldwide internet users ie 700 million people never use a PC at all and only use a mobile to access the internet, and a massive 84% of all internet users use a mobile at least part of the time. That tells us that 1.4 Billion people - and 56% of internet users actively use both a mobile phone (includes smartphones and basic phones including WAP) and a PC (including tablet PCs like iPad in PC definition). Yes, more than half of us internet users today use both a PC and a mobile phone to access the web. And by nearly 2 to 1 margin, the exclusive users now favor mobile-only over PC-only users.
There is a good reason so many now talk of a post-PC era and the legacy internet and the end of the mass market internet etc. The balance of users has already shifted to mobile and the game is tilting ever more in that direction.
PREMIUM SMS HAS 1.9 BILLION USERS
Do you vote for TV shows like American Idol or Eurovision Song Contest? Well, we measure that too. The various forms of premium SMS services from paying for your Coca Cola to checking into your airline with your boarding pass to paying for public transport and parking, to yes, voting on TV shows, the premium SMS market has reached 1.9 Billion paying customers. Huge. This is yes, almost twice the number of paid television subscription services, satellite, cable and digital TV systems, combined. Its 28% of all mobile subscribers and by far the most popular service type among Premium SMS is voting for TV shows. Roughly one in every 12 dollars earned by the global television industry comes from TV votes; Finland became the first country where Premium SMS revenues earned by TV outpaced advertising revenues AND subscription TV revenues. Some television franchises like Pop Idol earn in excess of half a Billion dollars in annual revenues, bonus above their usual TV advertising income, just out of premium SMS televotes. This is why I call Mobile the Magical Money-Making Machine in my books.
SEVERAL IN THE 1.2 BILLION OR SO RANGE
Then we have several more categories that are in the above 1 Billion user level. Apps are downloaded now by 1.2 Billion people (this includes Java based apps on featurephones as well as more advanced apps on smartphones). Gamers playing downloaded or networked games (ignoring pre-installed games that came with the handset) now number 1.2 Billion globally. Yes, 2.4 times more people play games on their mobile handsets than the total installed base of all stand-alone gaming consoles, tabletop and pocketable, combined.
1.3 Billion of us use search already on our mobile phones. Thats 19% of all mobile subscribers for those who are counting. Social networking like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In etc are used by 1.1 Billion people on mobile phones, both Facebook and Twitter announced this year 2012, that their half-point has been passed where now the majoirty of their users come from mobile phones, not PCs. And last but not least, ringback tones! RBTs have now 1.0 Billion global users, led by China and India obviously but highly popular in Russia, Indonesia, Turkey etc and increasingly also in more advanced Industrialized Countries of Europe and North America. In Asia-Pacific they have been the rage for some time already. How big is that? 15% of all mobile subscribers are now paying a monthly fee to have custom ringback tones via their networks and the music industry loves this subscription service as it cannot be pirated...
THATS IT. THE BIG NUMBERS ONCE AGAIN
So thats the big picture. Here to summarize the main numbers as the end of 2012 globally:
GLOBAL MOBILE NUMBERS
Human population . . . . . . . . . 7.1 Billion
Mobile subscriptions . . . . . . . 6.7 Billion is 94% per capita
Unique Mobile Users . . . . . . . 4.3 Billion is 61% per capita
Handsets in use . . . . . . . . . . 5.3 Billion
Smartphones . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.3 Billion is 25% of all handsets
3G Connections . . . . . . . . . . 1.3 Billion is 19% of subscriptions and 25% of handsets
WiFi users on mobile . . . . . . 1.1 Billion is 16% of subscriptions and 21% of handsets
SMS active users . . . . . . . . . 5.6 Billion is 83% of subscriptions
Voice call users . . . . . . . . . . 5.4 Billion is 81% of subscriptions
Camera users . . . . . . . . . . . 4.8 Billion is 72% of subscriptions
Mobile Ad audience . . . . . . . . 4.0 Billion is 60% of subscriptions, is 56% of planet
MMS active users . . . . . . . . . 2.9 Billion is 43% of subscriptions and 60% of cameraphone users
News active users . . . . . . . . . 2.3 Billion is 34% of subscriptions
Browser (including WAP) . . . . 2.1 Billion is 31% of subscriptions and 84% of all internet users
Premium SMS . . . . . . . . . . . 1.9 Billion is 28% of subscriptions and 34% of all SMS users
HTML browser 'real internet' . . 1.5 Billion is 22% of subscriptions and 60% of all internet users
Search on mobile . . . . . . . . . 1.3 Billion is 19% of subscriptions and 62% of mobile browser users
Gamers (download/browse) . . 1.2 Billion is 18% of subscribers and 57% of mobile browser users
Apps downloaders . . . . . . . . . 1.2 Billion is 18% of subscribers
Social Networking . . . . . . . . . 1.1 Billion is 16% of subscribers and 53% of mobile browser users
Ringback tone subscribers . . . 1.0 Billion is 15% of subscribers
Source for all the above: TomiAhonen Almanac 2013
This data may be freely shared and quoted
Yes, the above is all excerpted from the upcoming 2013 edition of the statistical yearbook TomiAhonen Almanac 2013. You may freely quote this blog and use any data in it and re-write any parts of this blog to better suit your readers. Just use the source as TomiAhonen Almanac 2013 and please also link to this blog, ok?
And if you don't happen to have the Almanac yet, I have a year-end special for you. Anyone who buys the 2012 edition now, gets both the 2012 edition now, and the new 2013 edition for no extra charge when that is finished in late January/early February of 2013. There is no reason to wait for the new edition. Get both for the price of one and get all of the current edition data now. The TomiAhonen Almanac 2012 is a massive 190 page volume as ebook/mbook in unrestricted pdf file, formated for your small screens of your iPhones, Galaxies and Blackberries, to have all the mobile data at your fingerprints. See more here TomiAhonen Almanac 2012.