Pew has done a great survey of 36,600 people in 32 countries of the emerging world on their mobile and tech use. Please see the full results here. The part that interests me and most of our readers is what they do with mobile. And we have some very good and rare numbers now measured so broadly, we can use them as solid numbers for the whole emerging world part of the planet (where 5/6 of the planet's population lives).
So the big numbers. First note, that this survey is only among adults (over age 18) but it includes all the big countries you'd want like China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, Mexico, Ukraine, Pakistan etc. So it really is very reflective of the emerging world, from the affluent parts of it to the poorest parts. And yes, 32 countries. The survey was conducted last year in the Spring but only now reported into the public domain.
RAW NUMBERS RELATING TO MOBILE
Now what did Pew find? That mobile phone ownership among adults in this region is 84% That smartphone ownership is 24% (meaning 29% smartphone migration rate). That of mobile phone owning adults, 76% send SMS text messages (do 64% of all adults alive in the region) and 55% use the camera (46% of all adults). Also Pew reported that for age breakdown for both uses, the lowest age group did it the most (as is consistent with all other surveys too). And they separately measured internet use, but did not isolate only mobile phone based usage, and found 44% of adults accessed the internet in some way, whether on a phone or a PC (or an internet cafe). What was most common reason for internet use, no surprise, social networking such as Facebook and Twitter, used by 82% of internet users (ie 36% of all adults).
LETS DIG IN FOR SOME INSIGHTS
So now we have several very valuable data points of the single biggest mobile phone user group on the planet, adults in the emerging world, for several interesting mobile stats. Lets start with the ownership. So Pew said 84% of adults in the emerging world own a mobile phone. As we know the total mobile subscription (aka account) count had passed human population last year, and is now about 7.4 Billion, we of course know that includes multiple account ownership. Now we have the data we want, to estimate total planetary unique mobile phone user base. Plugging in the age pyramid for the emerging world, and rough estimates of youth mobile phone ownership, plus adding in the industrialized world mobile phone ownership numbers, we get a unique mobile phone ownership number of .. 5.0 Billion. That number is effective summer 2014. I had counted 4.5 Billion at the end of 2013. This is very good data. (Remember this is not the total count of actual mobile phone handsets in use, it will be more than this, as some carry two phones. This is the genuine unique user count. Yes 68% of the humans alive of any age across the whole planet do actually have a mobile phone and at least one active subscription/account). Oh by the way, this clearly shows that approx 3.6 Billion count we had last year in some sources was way, way off, as far too low.
Then lets go for the smartphone number. Doing the same, counting the age pyramid, giving a far lower number of smartphone ownership among emerging world teens, and then adding in the industrialized world number, we get a total smartphone installed base in June of 2014 as ... 1.8 Billion. And would you know it, I reported 1.8 Billion in August for the June 30 number here on this blog. Not bad... (and my methodology has the latest count now for end of December at 2.1 Billion as I reported here a few weeks ago, so we can take that now as a very solid number indeed. 2.1 Billion smartphones are currently in use globally, and growing)
Ok then how is SMS use? We actually can get two numbers now out of that Pew study. We get a unique SMS user count for the first time ever, on a consistent study from one source (with some estimation) but those who use SMS will then use it on all their accounts typically, so we can also count the total SMS active accounts number. Lets start with that. Again, I did the same analysis as the above, but now of course adjusted the youth to use SMS even more than their parents, as the Pew study itself already reported. The planetary SMS text messaging count in users in the summer of 2014 was ... 5.6 Billion active accounts. This is a bit below the peak reported that we even heard some analysts say there were 6 Billion active SMS users but I said that the user number was 5.8 Billion. Now we have a very good count saying it was 5.6 Billion last year - in terms of total mobile phone accounts/subscriptions/phone numbers that were used this way. I am very happy to adjust my number down to this level. But what about unique users...
This number we've never had before! Now we can count the unique users, by taking the age pyramid, total adults in emerging world at 76% use, then the phone ownership of teens in that region and assigning a bit higher percentage of SMS use for them, and adding in the remaining 'rich world' industralized world texting users. We get a unique SMS text messaging user count - for the first time ever separating out multiple accounts - as ... 4.0 Billion humans. That is 55% of all humans alive that you can reach by SMS - (and only by SMS. Text messaging is used more on mobile phones than voice calls..). SMS has 1.5x the reach of unique users of email, 3 times the reach of Facebook, 5 times the reach of Whatsapp etc. Yes 4.0 Billion unique users of SMS text messaging. A monster number for the planet if there ever was. Twice the number of total number of TV sets in existence, 1.3 times more than total number of internet users on any device, PC, tablet, mobile or internet cafe... etc and 2x the number of all smartphones in use on any OS platform. And yes, on average an active SMS user will communicate through 1.4 mobile phone numbers or, roughly one in three SMS users has two accounts on different networks.
So then camera use. Again using the same methodology we get the unique cameraphone user count last summer at 3.3 Billion humans. This is a bit less than the 3.6 Billion I reported for the year, but remember, I was counting cameraphones used as cameras, not unique photographers. If we think 10% of cameraphone owners have two cameraphones that they use alternately, then we're at 3.6 Billion cameraphones used as cameras. But now we have a solid unique cameraphone user count for the first time ever, as of last June, globally, at 3.3 Billion.
So thats what we get out of the Pew numbers. Very good to get to confirm some data that is hard to find, and lovely to see measurements in the emerging world, as most mobile stats come from the UK, USA, Japan etc in the rich Industrialized World only.