World’s mobile penetration
At the end of 2011, there were 6bn mobile subscriptions, equivalent to 87% of the world’s population. So, if there are roughly 7.05bn people on the planet that would mean that a LOT people own mobile phones. The number also represents quite an increase from the 5.4bn in 2010 and 4.7bn in 2009.
This substantial increase is being driven by the developing world and its ever-growing demand. China and India are leading the way in rapid mobile adoption. Around 30% of the world’s mobile users currently live in those two countries.
As of March 2012, there are now more than a billion subscribers in China and India’s not that far behind (most of the following data acquired from the European Mobile Industry Observatory and a great site called mobithinking.com).
China has 1,023.7 million subscribers (April 2012) which, if put into percentages, equals to 76% of the population. What’s interesting to note is that over a 159.3 million of Chinese mobile phone subscribers are currently using 3G. Currently, India has 919.2 million subscribers (March 2012, 75% of the population). In India, 65% of all mobile subscribers live in urban areas. Meanwhile, USA is holding onto third place with 331.6 million subscribers (November 2011) but has a much higher mobile penetration rate (104%-106%) than the other two giants.
At the end of 2011, mobile penetration in the developing world was around 79%, with Africa being the world’s lowest region at 53%. That too is rapidly changing.
821 000 000 mobile subscriptions have been added across Africa in the third quarter of 2012, which represents a 17% growth when looking at the same period last year. Mobile penetration has now reached 76.4% and will most likely pass 80% in the first quarter of 2013. The African market is expected to grow 1.12bn by 2017, contributing around 13.9% to the global market.
Besides rapid growth, African mobile market has another interesting characteristic – the number of prepaid users. In South Africa, the ratio is 86:14% in favor of prepaid “consumption” but many African nations have prepaid to postpaid ratios of around 95:5%. They like topping up their accounts down there (there’s only so much humor one can invent when discussing stats).
Europe has a population coverage rate of nearly 100% and a penetration rate of 128%. This represents 656 million individual subscriptions (active SIM cards) held by an estimated 456 million Europeans (89% of the population), many of whom have more than one subscription. For Europe, Greece was definitely one of the leaders for quite some time. The mobile penetration ratio in Greece was 56% at the end of 2000 showing an increase of 51% from the end of 1999. At the time, the Greek subscriber changed his cellular handset roughly three times more often than his European counterpart.
Mobile services are now being used across all age groups and socioeconomic segments of populations. They are often the only constant communication service for many socioeconomic groups.
Just ask yourselves – How would I live without a mobile phone? When that same question is answered by the same “I have no idea!” by people on different continents then the reason for increasing mobile penetration becomes that much clearer.