Five Billion Mobile Subscriptions in Five Months' Time

According to a recent study by ABI Research, we’ll surpass five billion mobile subscriptions by the end of 2010.

The report also shows that that mobile growth is fastest in the developing world. Africa, for example, remains the fastest-growing adopter of subscriptions with a year-on-year growth of 22%. Asia-Pacific’s mobile penetration will reach two-thirds by the end of the year, up from 23% in 2005, with Indian and Indonesia gaining 150 million subscriptions in the past four quarters.

As much as we'd like it to, this doesn't necessarily mean that five billion people will own phones by the end of the year. Most professionals in major developed cities carry multiple subscriptions and phones (Blackberry at work, iPhone at home). Also, in the developing world it's not uncommon to own multiple SIM card subscriptions because of network reliability issues. Based on mobile penetration rates, phone sales, and subscriptions, it's safe to assume that about one billion people carry multiple subscriptions or phones, so we can still expect about four of the seven billion people in the world to own a mobile phone by the end of the year.

These remarkable statistics inspire a virtuous cycle of investment, innovation, and even more adoption, driving mobile operating companies to create new services. With global mobile revenue expected to hit $1 trillion by 2013, there is a huge market aching to be explored by phone manufacturers and service providers. In Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, Nokia’s is selling more phones, cheaper, than ever before. In 2008 and 2009 alone, over 418 million handsets were sold globally, and this number is rising significantly on a quarterly basis. The demand for mobile Internet is also increasing world-wide; more than fifteen operators in Africa have announced plans to introduce 3G data services in the region.

Spurred by these incredible mobile adoption rates, mobile operators continue to explore the market, investing in mobile Internet, innovation, and infrastructure. Which means that in just five month’s time, nearly 60% of the world's population will be plugged in to our global network of connectivity, putting mobile health, commerce, and education into the pockets of billions.