Lets explore the world’s mobile phone handset population today. I just released the newest edition of the TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016 statistical volume exactly one week ago. This is the sister volume to my popular TomiAhonen Almanac series that comes out every year around February. Where my Almanac looks at the total 1.7 Trillion-dollar sized mobile industry including its mobile services, the Phone Book focuses only on the 380 Billion dollar sized handset market, as a slice of the total mobile industry. Both ebooks have about 100 charts and tables with about 30% overlap but the Phone Book obviously gives its full attention to the handsets side. In the Almanac the handsets only get one chapter.
TWO BIG MILESTONES
The world passed a big milestone in handsets last year, when we passed the point where half of all phone handsets in use are now smartphones. So out of 5.8 Billion total handsets, now 2.95 Billion are smartphones and 2.85 Billion are ‘dumbphones’ which range from very simple small cheap 20 dollar devices that have no color screen and no camera; to featurephones that can include very advanced devices such as in Japan where ‘featurephones’ typically have NFC, GPS, run on 4G, have full HTML internet browsers, 16 mp cameras, are waterproof etc. Then contrast your own experience to say Africa, where one in three phones is a second-hand phone that was once sold in another country as a new phone like in Europe or the richer nations of the Middle East. Yes, globally 15% of all phones in use is a second-hand phone, either sold as a used phone, or a hand-me-down phone given typically to kids by parents when the parents upgrade to newer phones. Meanwhile the total unique handset-owning human population reached 5.0 Billion (67.6% of all humans alive of any age, globally). For contrast there are only 2.2 Billion television sets, 1.8 Billion personal computers and only 4.3 Billion FM radios in the world. But now, 5.0 Billion unique humans own at least one mobile phone. What a milestone!
As my TomiAhonen Phone Book comes out only once every two years, now is the perfect time then to discuss the global handset population and what kind of tidbits we can learn from and share out of the Phone Book 2016.
UNIQUE MOBILE OWNERS
Once it used to be true that a mobile owner equalled a mobile account equalled a mobile handset in use. Those rules were broken in the past two decades. Some people started to have two phones, so its no longer true that the unique count of mobile phone users equals the number of phones in use (phones in use is a larger number). The Phone Book 2016 gives us those numbers. There are 5.0 Billion unique human beings who own at least one mobile phone on an active account. They have a total of 5.8 Billion total mobile handsets. Yes, 19% of those people who have a mobile phone, actually have two handsets. You might think they are then all ‘rich’ affluent users who will have two smartphones. Yeah, that sounds reasonable until you visit a typical Asian or African or Latin American city and see what the taxi driver has. He (or she) has a bunch of basic Nokia (or Samsung) dumbphones but typically has one for every network. This includes the rickshaw drivers and Tuk-Tuk drivers in parts of Asia. They have a phone connected to every network but most of those are not smartphones (one may be, with a mapping service, if the driver understands maps.. many do not; some are illiterate and can’t even read, far less read a map).
Then there is the count of multiple subscriptions via interchangable SIM cards (Subscriber Identity Module). Most of our readers understand this and it seems obvious but in some markets like the USA its still rare for consumers to swap SIM cards and most remain locked to their primary mobile carrier per phone they have. But the world has 7.8 Billion active mobile accounts to 5.8 Billion mobile phones in use. We learned already from the TomiAhonen Almanac a few years ago that there is an increasing slice of the total mobile subscription count that are not ‘humans’ ie they are ‘machine to machine’ or ‘telematics’ connections for things like metering and remote control and our vehicles etc.
So for a population of 7.4 Billion human beings, there are 7.8 Billion mobile subscriptions. 600 million of those are M2M subs, so now there are 7.2 Billion actual mobile phone accounts for all humans. Lets set those into a table:
World Mobile Stats at End of 2016
Humans alive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4 Billion
Mobile accounts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.8 Billion
Mobile accounts used by humans . . . . 7.2 Billion
Handsets in use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.8 Billion
Unique humans with mobile . . . . . . . . . 5.0 Billion
Smartphones in use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.95 Billion
Dumbphones in use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.85 Billion
Source: TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016, December 2016
This table may be freely shared
Those kinds of statistics have been my obsession for the full 20 years I’ve been in the mobile industry (before that I was on the fixed landline side, and started my telecoms IT industry journey on the side of personal computers and the internet). The reason I have been obsessing about these stats is that I was first exposed to them. Finland was literally the first country to measure the stunning success of mobile where suddenly ‘business’ tools were used by teenagers, where normal citizens started to carry two phones, and I’ve been tracking these types of stats and reporting them longer than anyone else alive on the planet. They form the basis of the Almanac series of my statistics volumes and are a staple in my public presentations that have brought me to over 60 countries and 100 cities.
Now wouldn’t it be nice to know how those split in terms of the ‘rich world’ and the ‘Emerging World’? Obviously we, in the wealthy ‘industrialized world’ tend to have nice smartphones and laptops and tablets on 4G networks and all our cool tech to go with that. But how do the mobile stats split when we consider the ‘digital divide’? Lets look at Chapter 14 ‘Digital Divide’ out of the TomiAhonen PhoneBook 2016 and we get really useful information:
Digital Divide at End of 2016
Item . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Industrialized World. . . Emerging World
Humans alive . . . . . . . . . 1.2 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 6.2 Billion
Mobile accounts . . . . . . . 2.1 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 5.1 Billion
Unique mobile users . . . 1.1 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 3.9 Billion
Handsets in use . . . . . . . 1.6 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 4.2 Billion
Smartphones in use . . . . 1.4 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 1.6 Billion
Dumbphones in use . . . . 0.2 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 2.6 Billion
Source: TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016, December 2016
This table may be freely shared
Now tell me that table alone was not worth reading this blog? Nobody else gives you numbers like this! And yeah, just the Digital Divide has 5 charts and tables with data like this, telling you everything about the mobile phone device population in the Emerging World vs rich world, and various aspects of the connected technologies like televisions, internet, personal computers, landlines etc.
INSTALLED BASE OF PHONE HANDSETS
Its easy to find quarterly sales data for new smartphones. Half a dozen companies provide (more or less accurate) counts of the market’s top leading brands. But as we note that still in December of 2016 about one in five new handsets sold in the world was NOT a smartphone, just looking at smartphones does give you a distorted picture of the market. And then it gets ever more difficult to find information on how many phones are on a given smartphone OS platform (to use its app store), or how many have an HTML browser (or still in many cheap older phones, the more basic WAP brower that does enable basic internet services). But what about the screen size or camera resolution or whether the phone has 3G or WiFi or Bluetooth? There is no regularly published reporting of those kinds of details. Does the phone do touch-screen? Does it have GPS? Is it NFC enabled. This is the kind of data that takes years to collect and requires a thorough understanding not only of what phones are currently sold, but of replacement cycles, to know how long older phone types remain in use. The average replacement cycle by the way, in year 2016, is 29 months says the TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016. So the total random average person walks around today with a phone that is one year and 3 months old, and will hold onto it for another year and 2 months before replacing it.
So now we are in areas where you may be lucky to find a single source for a single data point (we just had some Statista numbers earlier this week about touch screen device screen sizes). But even that is confusing data because it included tablets (which are not phones) and it ignored the non-touch screen phones (which are still 47% of all phones in use). If you wanted to calculate screen types, even the Statista data won’t get you to the full phone population. But the Phone Book does. It devotes a whole chapter just to the features of the installed base. So lets take some snippets.
So 51% of all phones in use are smartphones. It means 49% of all phones in use today are still dumphones. If you deploy your mobile service on a smartphone app, you are actively blocking out 49% of all consumers who have a mobile phone. Now consider HTML. 83% of all phones in use - 4.8 Billion devices - has an HTML brower. And if you deploy your service on HTML, the consumer does not need to download an app, the phone can natively surf to your website and consume your service or make the mCommerce purchase or play your game or whatever it was you wanted to do with mobile. What of SMS? Every single mobile phone ie all 5.8 Billion of them can do SMS text messaging and its related services. Which is why for example India is rolling out a national mobile banking/payments system that is not apps and NFC based, it is based on SMS and USSD.
Its far easier to find stats on how many people have Android or iOS devices, and of course I have that data too for you in the Phone Book 2016. In fact you don’t need the Phone Book for those numbers, I report the smartphone OS wars installed base count every quarter here on this blog. Its the difficult numbers that the Phone Book will reveal.
Do you want to launch a location-based game? Only 28% of all phones in use have a GPS receiver and can get location data to that precision. What about the camera? Are you thinking of doing a clever social media concept with selfie pictures? 93% of all phones in use now has a camera. Were you thinking of something clever with Bluetooth? 83% of all phones in use have Bluetooth. That is what the chapter is full of. 17 total charts and tables of just about every statistic you could ever hope for about the handset population globally. Screen sizes, camera resolutions, 3G connectivity, input types,
The TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016 of course looks at the market data, new sales, market shares, regionally, globally, by brand etc. It studies the prices of smart and dumb phones, including regional breakdowns (there are 11 charts showing the regional breakdown of given data, so you can compare say Africa to Western Europe and understand the regional differences better. All 11 regional tables have the same 8 region split as I also use in the Almanac). The markets are studied also by brand shares regionally etc. This kind of data is not of interest to all readers but for some readers it is very important. Lets take a few tidbits from the market. The average price of a new phone has grown slightly from 2015 and was 193 dollars in 2016. This is the ‘blended price’ of the proportional mix weighted average of smartphones and dumbphones sold. There is a Price Pyramid on page 32 of course that breaks the phone prices into four bands, premium smartphones, mid-priced smartphones, low cost smartphones and dumbphones. The Price Pyramid has returned to ‘normal’ shape now that Apple has raised its prices at the high end of the phones (as I suggested in 2014 in the previous Phone Book that has to happen, because the Price Pyramid was out of shape back then). I’m not going to give all the data out for free of course but as a rule of thumb, we can say roughly one in five phones sold globally is a premium smartphones, the other three categories each is roughly the same size. But lets share a bit more info. The ASP (Average Sales Price) of smartphones globally in 2016 was 254 dollars and for dumbphones was 23 dollars. There, again more freebie info you will have a hard time finding anywhere else. The Phone Book then gives far more detail for those matters too, like regional prices etc.
As I made the point at the launch of the Apple iPad, the tablet is an ultraportable PC, it is not a large smartphone. There is some overlap in their use, but a tablet generally is an ‘anti-mobile’ and it will ‘immobilize’ the user. When we use a tablet, we want to stop, sit down, use it at a Starbucks, with both hands etc. But a mobile including smartphones including phablet-screen smartphones are still ‘mobiles’ and they are a far superior device for most consumers when considering how broadly they can be used. This was a controversial argument when the iPad launched but today most tech writers agree with me. A tablet is not a direct competitor to the smartphone and smartphones will utterly demolish the growth opportunity for tablets, especially with phablet-sized screen smartphones. So I have a chapter on tablets to show the scales, the growth rates, how the PC market shifted to tablets; and how the phablet stole the thunder from the tablet market.
Phablet-sized smartphones outsold tablets back in 2015. By 2016, phablet-sized smartphones outsold all portable PCs combined ie tablets and laptops combined! And in this year, 2017 phablets will outsell all PC devices (tablets, laptops and desktop PCs combined). What we are witnessing is the exact same pattern we saw with PDAs and then with MP3 players and digital cameras. There is a stand-alone digital market for those devices but once the mobile phone decides to take over that market, the other side suffers catastrophic collapse of its core business. This was predictable if you understood mobile (I said this would happen back in my third book, 3G Marketing. in 2004). But because many still confuse ‘mobility’ with ‘portability’ and some (misguided) analysts do count tablets as supposed ‘mobile devices’ (they are only ‘ultraportable PCs’) I have that chapter about Tablets for you, showing the relevance of the phablet devices and tablets in context of the PC market and smartphones. It has 7 charts and tables. But regular readers of this blog knew for a long while already that tablet sales had peaked and the future belonged to phablet-sized smarphones. The smartphone will not kill off the PC, there is a genuine business need for PC type of devices, but the mass market, the Facebook mom, she doesn’t need a PC to access Facebook, if she has a nice smartphone to do it. But a professional writer like me? I’ll still type on a laptop keyboard haha...
The Phone Book 2016 has tons more data, business/enterprise phones (including BYOD devices), data cards, smartphone OS platforms, app stores, mobile consumers, ownership, migration rates, and on and on and on. 180 pages, 100 tables and charts, all for 10 Euros. The best data source about the handset market. To see more I am including here the table of contents so you can see what is in it. But if you wanted this type of data, 10 Euros is a dirt-cheap price for the kind of info. My website is the only place you can get the Phone Book, so no use waiting for it to appear say on Amazon. This is the only place. Order yours here: Tomi Ahonen Phone Book 2016.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016
Chapter 1 - Intro (3 pages, no charts)
Chapter 2 - Size of Mobile Industry (12 pages, 5 charts/tables)
Chapter 3 - Mobile Customers (13 pages, 4 charts/tables)
Chapter 4 - Handset Market (14 pages, 11 charts/tables)
Chapter 5 - Installed Base of Handsets & Features (22 pages, 17 charts/tables)
Chapter 6 - Market Shares (8 pages, 5 charts/tables)
Chapter 7 - Smartphones (17 pages, 11 charts/tables)
Chapter 8 - Smartphone Operating Systems (24 pages, 13 charts/tables)
Chapter 9 - Dumbphones (5 pages, 3 charts/tables)
Chapter 10 - Datacards and Accessories (4 pages, 1 chart/table)
Chapter 11 - Tablets (12 pages, 7 charts/tables)
Chapter 12 - Smartphone Applications (11 pages. 7 charts/tables)
Chapter 13 - Major Players (15 pages, 6 charts/tables)
Chapter 14 - Digital Divide (13 pages, 5 charts/tables)
Chapter 15 - History and Milestones (12 pages)
Tables (11 pages)
Index of Mobile Leadership for 30 advanced countries
60 Major Countries
25 Leading Countries by Handset Unit Sales
25 Leading Countries by Handset Market Revenue
20 Biggest Mobile Operator Groups
Get your TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016 now.