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7.1 Billion People, 7.1 Billion Mobile Phone Accounts Activated

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the borrowing-the-mcdonalds-model dept.

Stats 197

Freshly Exhumed (105597) writes "Tomi Ahonen's newly released 2014 Almanac reveals such current mobile phone industry data gems as: 'The mobile subscription rate is at or very very nearly at 100%. For 7.1 Billion people alive that means 7.1 Billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide.' Compared with other tech industries, he says: 'Take every type of PC, including desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs and add them together. What do we have? 1.5 Billion in use worldwide. Mobile is nearly 5 times larger. Televisions? Sure. We are now at 2 Billion TV sets in use globally. But mobile has 3.5 times users.' Which mobile phone OS is the leader? ''Android has now utterly won the smartphone platform war with over 80% of new sales. Apple's iPhone has peaked and is in gradual decline at about 15% with the remnant few percent split among Windows, Blackberry and miscellaneous others.'"

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Sanity check (4, Insightful)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 4 months ago | (#46990055)

Usually when you get a number like this you do a sanity check to make sure it's reasonable. This is so plainly obviously a BS number.

Re:Sanity check (5, Informative)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 4 months ago | (#46990125)

These are telecommunications companies. Sanity doesn't figure in to their business plan.

Re:Sanity check (2)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 4 months ago | (#46990183)

These are telecommunications companies. Sanity doesn't figure in to their business plan.

You have clearly never worked for an investment bank.

Re:Sanity check (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46990441)

.. or the RIAA.

Re:Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990247)

And neither does basic math. You don't need to look any further than your bill for proof.

Re:Sanity check (5, Informative)

schnell (163007) | about 4 months ago | (#46990351)

It's got nothing to do with that. As the GP said, this is a total BS interpretation of the statistic. In wireless telco parlance, a "subscriber" is just an active SIM, not a person. So the total # of "subscribers" among mobile systems includes not just cellular phones but also cellular wireless enabled laptops/tablets/Kindles; all the cars out there with OnStar or something similar; every truck or car with a wireless fleet tracker; every cargo container or physical asset that has a wireless location/anti-theft tracker; every FedEx driver who has a cellular-enabled signature capture reader; every utility meter or security camera with a cellular data link... the list goes on and on. "7.1 billion" is probably more like 1/2 people with phones and 1/2 "things" with cellular connections.

Re:Sanity check (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 4 months ago | (#46990801)

The richest countries would have to have ten devices per person ON AVERAGE to make up for the large portion of the population that doesn't have any, let alone clean toilets. I just don't see how that's the case.

Re:Sanity check (4, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#46991357)

Lots of people without indoor toilets now have mobile phones.

Re:Sanity check (1)

Carrot007 (37198) | about 4 months ago | (#46990901)

Indeed, they probably count all the smart electric meters out there too!

Re:Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46991017)

RTFA... the author says essentially that. Thanks for nothing.

Not a BS number (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | about 4 months ago | (#46991077)

That there are as many active mobile devices as there are people doesn't mean that everybody has a mobile device. And the reality is that mobile devices actually are ubiquitous, and the 7.1 billion number understates their ubiquity, since many devices are wifi only.

I type this on my Linux laptop that I use for work, but outside of some gaming, mobile devices have taken the crown for personal use. Mostly, I browse on my smart phone. I schedule on my smart phone. I email on my smart phone. My "TV" is actually a Google TV Stick running android. I frequently take a tablet with me when I travel, just so I can plug the hotel room HDMI into it and watch what I want, rather than "what's on".

Mobile devices are everywhere, and still growing fast, and have completely up-ended the computer marketplace. This trend will continue and even if you knock the number in half, it still stomps the every loving *!@#$* out of the classical desktop "computer".

I'll be the first (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990213)

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have a cellphone, either smart or dumb, nor have I ever had one, and nor do I ever plan to.

Re:I'll be the first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990323)

Hey, I met your brother.

http://www.theonion.com/articl... [theonion.com]

Re:I'll be the first (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 4 months ago | (#46991055)

I would love to be second to admit it. Unfortunately I have four phones on my desk at thsi moment.

Re:Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990221)

Exactly. There is a large portion of or population that most assuredly do not have mobile phone service (children under 8 in industrial countries, most anyone living in third-world countries, pretty much everyone living in poverty - did you know that almost 50% of the world's population lives on less than $2.50 a day - http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats - kind of hard to pay for a cellular phone on less than $2.50/day). And please, don't bother saying "I know a 5 year old who has a cell" and think that it means anything. A few exceptions do not a rule make.

The accounting here is suspect. For example, my iPad (given to me as a perk from work - I'd never actually spend my own money on a tablet device) has a cellular module. I don't use it, have never activated it, but it probably shows up in this survey as a mobile device. On the other hand, I have 9 computers/laptops in my house - most of them put together from components. I sincerely doubt that this survey was able to look at my purchasing of components and realize that I had put together 9 computers or that 3 of the laptops are rarely, if ever, used anymore.

Re: Sanity check (3, Insightful)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 4 months ago | (#46990505)

Actually, the "computer" count in the article was based on CPUs (x86 Processors from Intel and AMD) manufactured and sold through according to their financials, and made an assumption of one processor per "computer". So, unless you built your desktops upon PowerPC, Sparc or ARM, you've been counted. And on the phone front, it also refers to "Active Lines of Service" (billed phone numbers). Would be interesting to see the breakdown on a per country basis (even if only the biggies) to see "active lines of service" / "total population" = x

Re:Sanity check (4, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46990733)

Actually mobile phones are quite common in the developing world, where they represent a minimal investment in infrastructure and an enormous profit advantage to a canny user. Probably nowhere near 100%, but I think I heard a number around 1-in-3 or so recently, and that's among the poor agrarian communities.

As for cost - I've personally used a mobile phone for ~$8/month for years ($25 prepaid card, expires after 90 days), or $0.28/day - and that's a prepaid plan in the US, which probably makes it one of the most expensive plans in the world. Granted that doesn't allow for a lot of usage, but I don't talk on the phone recreationally so it works out fine.

Re:Sanity check (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990251)

Why? It's very possible with multiple people having multiple subscriptions. I personally have 3: a business cell, a personal cell (on the tmobile $30 unlimited data plan), and my previous personal cell (a per-minute prepaid plan which I don't use but it still valid through the end of the year). Don't a lot of ipads (and other tablets) have cellular models which requires their own cellular plan? That's a ton of people with dual accounts. I know some people don't have a landline at home and instead keep an extra prepaid cellular plan for whoever babysits at their house (though I don't know how common this is).

Re: Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990499)

It's not that the numbers themselves are necessarily wrong, but they may not mean what the article implies.

Re:Sanity check (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 months ago | (#46990271)

You honestly think telcos don't know how many subscribers they have? Everybody I know from age 10 and up has one and personally I've got two phones, one for home and one for work. In my case it's because my employer's policy is very strict on mixing work related records with random apps that could compromise the phone. So does a friend of mine so he can hand the "work phone" to someone else when he's away, because that's the number many people call. It doesn't take many of us to add up to >100% of the population.

Re:Sanity check (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#46990421)

You honestly think telcos don't know how many subscribers they have?

I think they have strong incentives to inflate the number of subscribers they actually have to look good for their investors. One cell phone for every man, woman and child on the planet? Yeah, I'm a little dubious. There are a LOT of young people, poor people and old people who do not have cell phones.

Re:Sanity check (3, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#46990443)

You honestly think telcos don't know how many subscribers they have? Everybody I know from age 10 and up has one and personally I've got two phones, one for home and one for work. In my case it's because my employer's policy is very strict on mixing work related records with random apps that could compromise the phone. So does a friend of mine so he can hand the "work phone" to someone else when he's away, because that's the number many people call. It doesn't take many of us to add up to >100% of the population.

I think telcos know how many subscribers they have -- I also think telcos don't know how many telcos there are globally. Among other things I think, I think this is likely the number of SIM cards produced to date, not active subscribers, and I think that people who work for telcos probably have a disproportionately large number of subscriptions.

I really have no problem with the stats on phone subscriptions, even though I'm pretty sure it's a projection that treats all parts of the world equal. However, their jump to "almost every person in the world has a phone" is silly, as I'm pretty sure that, just pulling a figure out of my head, that at least 40% of the people in the world don't have a cell phone. This number is borne out by the fact that there are many people who have two, and many businesses have "fleet subscriptions" that are not all in use. Plus you have to factor in all the test subscriptions, phone cards sold at 7-11, lost/stolen/abandoned phones that have a stored value subscription but aren't actually in use, etc.

I know of at least 8 people who don't have a cell phone, and at least 8 people who have 2+.

What IS interesting, is that cellphones have somehow become the great equalizer. they cross all ethnicity/education/location/wealth barriers -- even homeless people have cell phones these days.

However, if the telcos are trying to paint this as "look at this great market!" I'd like to point out that capitalism works by exploiting new growth markets. Sounds like what they're saying is that the market is almost saturated -- which if true (it isn't, but follow along) means that telcos are about to flatline on profits. No more YoY growth. This should be somewhat worrying to them.

Re:Sanity check (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | about 4 months ago | (#46990465)

See this depends highly on where you live. No one in my extended family gives cell phones to kids until they can buy one themselves and my older relatives my parents age often don't have cell phones at all and the ones that do certainly don't own smart phones.

Re:Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990593)

It was mobile phones, not smart phones.

There are more mobile phones than people in a lot of European countries. I only have two.

In poorer countries, dual-SIM phones are more common. That's probably because different providers are competitive in different areas (international / local calls).

I have four active SIMs, although two (from visiting other countries) will probably expire within the next year. Who knows what they count?

Re:Sanity check (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 4 months ago | (#46990919)

Do they have land lines?

Or do they leave the kids with no phone at the house?

Re:Sanity check (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46990481)

I honestly think they don't know how many individual humans are their customers.

As has been pointed out by others, "subscriber" in telecom parlance refers to the device, not the person who owns it. Ergo, if you have a work phone, personal phone, and one of those wireless hotspot devices, you count as 3 subscribers.

Re:Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990573)

That's nice and all, don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed your story. While we're storytelling, my grandfather doesn't have a cell phone, and neither does a friend of mine's child who just turned 1. On top of that, my cousin has three children, and none of them have cell phones. So now it seems as though there's a disparity. What else have you got? Maybe we can get back to 100% if you dig deep.

Re:Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990985)

The linked article actually says 7.1B active (probably SIMs as suggested throughout the comments here?), 5.4B handsets in use (probably IMEIs?), and 4.5B unique users (seems hard to quantify without personal identifying information that can link individuals who use multiple carriers) so they are already accounting for 36% of humans not having phones, 20% of users having multiple phones, and 24% of active accounts not being in phones.

What I wonder is whether they consider every IMEI to be a handset (e.g. including embedded modems in other devices). I wonder what the aggregation period is that they used for identifying active accounts and equipment. Many pre-paid SIMs may see occasional use and then sit on a shelf until they expire a year or more later.

Re:Sanity check (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 4 months ago | (#46990309)

it is reasonable.

what you FAIL and maybe article writer fails in is quite simply that many people have many subs to their name.

and then there's all the non personal mobile phone subscriptions( remember this internet of things hype stuff?). you know, billboards, hand dryers etc which have sims and connect to the net.

Re:Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990429)

I have a work phone, a personal phone, a laptop with 3g, a tablet, and a tracker in the works van I use most days.
If I account for 5 mobile phone accounts on a good day, there are probably a lot of people who've got me beat.

So yeah, I'd guess it's reasonable but I'd also like to see the margin of error as to how many of those devices are "Pay as you go" accounts that have never been used or got used once then discarded.

Re:Sanity check (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 4 months ago | (#46990897)

most of them(kiosk bought prepaids) have an activity time limit(topping it up extends it) and if you leave it to lapse they consider it deactivated(and can re-use the number).

Re:Sanity check (4, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | about 4 months ago | (#46990353)

Didn't you mean to say.... a phony number?

Re:Sanity check (1)

Punto (100573) | about 4 months ago | (#46990389)

I have 3 mobile subscriptions and 0 TVs, si those numbers sound legit to me.

Re:Sanity check (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 4 months ago | (#46990457)

Speaking of sanity check, more people have cell phones than access to clean toilets [unicef.org] . That, indeed, is crazy.

Re:Sanity check (1)

RailGunner (554645) | about 4 months ago | (#46990885)

All you need is a hole in the ground. Besides -- think of all the water those toilets would waste. Holes in the ground are totally sustainable, and far more environmentally friendly. Won't you think of the children? Maybe we should have shovels for all... after all, can't have people killing and eating animals and using their skins for leather and bones for tools, can we?

Re:Sanity check (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 4 months ago | (#46990931)

Speaking of sanity check, more people have cell phones than access to clean toilets. That, indeed, is crazy.

But understandable. Building out and maintaining a wireless phone infrastructure is much easier and cheaper than doing so for a sewer system.

Re:Sanity check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990469)

Yea, another sanity check failure is equating 2 billion TVs with exactly 2 billion users. I guess my 4 person househol only has 1 TV viewer!

Re:Sanity check (4, Informative)

coolsteve (1582557) | about 4 months ago | (#46990513)

From the article:

MOBILE SUBCRIBERS END OF 2013
Total active mobile subscriptions or accounts -7.1B (was 6.7B in 2011, growth 6%)
Unique mobile users - 4.5 B (was 4.3B in 2011, growth 5%)
Actual mobile phones in use - 5.4 B (was 5.2B in 2011, growth 4%)

Not quite sure what that means... There are more active subscriptions than actual phones in use? Who is paying for a subscription without having a phone attached?

Re:Sanity check (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 4 months ago | (#46990955)

Who is paying for a subscription without having a phone attached?

The first thing that came to mind was someone with a device that uses only the data connection.

Re:Sanity check (2)

locofungus (179280) | about 4 months ago | (#46991037)

In Europe, it's common for people who travel frequently abroad to have a sim for a local provider in each country they visit.

On some bits of the south coast of England, some people get better (or only) reception from France. They have a sim for France which they put in their phone when they're at home and a UK sim for when they're out to avoid accidental roaming charges when at home.

Re:Sanity check (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 4 months ago | (#46991187)

Dual-sim phones are common in most of the world. I have Sims for countries I am not actually in. One of them is currently on loan to someone in its native country.

Re:Sanity check (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 months ago | (#46991205)

Not quite sure what that means... There are more active subscriptions than actual phones in use? Who is paying for a subscription without having a phone attached?

In the developing world, it's very common for calling to be cheap in-network and expensive if you call someone on a different cellular provider.
The end result is everyone has two phones or dual sim phones.
Even triple and quad sim phones have been on the market for a while now.

It's not something that internationally known manufacturers were at all interested in,
but companies like Motorola, HTC, Samsung and Nokia have finally joined the Chinese in manufacturing them.

Common situation: Work phone + personal phone (1)

dwheeler (321049) | about 4 months ago | (#46990527)

Lots of people I know have at least two phones. Heck, I personally have a "work phone" and a "personal phone". My company is a lot less worried about their data mixing with other stuff, especially when combined with additional sandboxing mechanisms like GOOD. It helps me, too. If some organizational data gets out, my employer can erase the phone without me worrying that they'll erase my stuff. Also, I'm a lot freer to install apps than I would be if my company controlled what could be installed on the device that also housed my company's data.

This isn't even unusual. Phones are small and cheap enough to have two. Software-based security mechanisms leak all the time; making things physically separate is far more effective if protecting data actually matters. Not everyone needs to do this, but it's fairly common when data confidentiality really matters.

Re:Sanity check (1)

dwheeler (321049) | about 4 months ago | (#46990705)

To be fair, the article itself does state that the 7.1B figure does not represent unique users or handsets in use. Instead, it says that "The number of unique users is now 4.5 Billion or 63% of all humans alive are actually users of mobile phones. The remaining 2.6 Billion accounts are second or third accounts for the same user... So 20% of us, one in five who has a mobile subscription or account, actually walks around with two phones (and at least two accounts)."

Re:Sanity check (1)

ausekilis (1513635) | about 4 months ago | (#46990791)

It might actually be reasonable. There are a number of businesses out there that provide blackberries or other "work" cell phones. They could also be throwing in assorted iPads and other tablets, since they too probably have some 3g/4g plan associated with them. While I too doubt that it's 1 for 1, there are some areas where it might be 2 or 3 devices for one person. Who knows whether or not those folks make up for those ends of the world without cell towers.

Re:Sanity check (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#46990989)

The number is reasonable. The reasoning behind it is prime grade A BS, though.

I'd be interested just how many of these subscriptions are not to a human but to a machine. Computers that call their admins when they lose power. Surveillance systems that alert police or owner. And in many instances there's more than one just as a failover necessity. I dare say those alone will dwarf the "human" subscribers.

And I'm pretty sure with a bit of thinking one can come up with many other subscriptions that "belong" to some kind of automated system, supposed to be used only in very specific circumstances, rather than human subscribers having a calling plan to talk with each other.

Re:Sanity check (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46991109)

I don't have a cell and have no intention of getting one. So that's proof the numbers are wrong.

Phones != unique users (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 4 months ago | (#46991255)

The biggest problem with this is the number of people with multiple phones. I know many people who have their personal phones as well as phones from their employer for work.

What this means (2, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 4 months ago | (#46990065)

for my profession (public relations) is that if you don't have a mobile strategy, you don't have a communications strategy at all.

Re:What this means (0, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 months ago | (#46990161)

So in your profession (marketing, call it what it is), you're brain dead.

What this tells you is not that you 'must have a mobile strategy' ... it tells you that someone is lying.

But hey, why would you actually do anything other than arrogant self promotion as if your profession is even needed in the first place.

If you believe these numbers, you're a moron/idiot/fucking retarded SoB.

Re:What this means (5, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 months ago | (#46990507)

Public Relations is not marketing. Marketing deals with products; public relations deals with relation to customers and the public at large.

Marketing revolves around how to dress up Tide, how to convince the consumer they want Tide, what markets Tide aims at, what the advertising strategy is for Tide, and so on. These center around products, demographics, and how demographics connect to products.

Public relations instead revolves around Tide Co, how to convince the customer that Tide Co isn't an evil asshole company dumping sludge onto farmland in India, how much transparency Tide Co should have to keep customer trust, when Tide Co's ethics committee has come off its nut and is trying to create a PR nightmare by doing something that will reflect extremely negatively on Tide Co, etc. These center around the company, demographics, and the public at large.

The difference is subtle, but simple. Marketing tries to sell products. Public relations tries to make sure the company both actively creates rapport with the public (customers or not) and avoids offending the public. Good PR is about ethics and transparency; good marketing is about selling shit.

As an example: Apple has good PR. Their company is environmentally responsible, they're aware of their business operations, they communicate to the world at large through exciting and entertaining public appearances, and so on. Their marketing is less successful: more people bought Motorola, Samsung, and LG phones with Google software; who in the hell gets excited over Google and Samsung?

10 years ago, you needed an electronics communications strategy. It wasn't enough to market things on TV and in news papers; you needed to get customers on mailing lists, to tell them about what's happening in the company (not products, but exciting growth and customer outreach programs), and to give them exclusive insider deals or promotions or whatever. You couldn't just put "iPhone, SALE $299 REG $399" in the paper; you had to make the customer a part of your communications network, make them feel like you're talking specifically to them. Now it's mobile apps.

thank you for sharing (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 4 months ago | (#46990619)

have a nice day.

Re:thank you for sharing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46991095)

The GP is a complete asshole. Just look at their posting history to see how much of a dick he/she really is (my money is on an unemployable, frustrated basement dweller) . I have even seen this under-medicated monkey advocate violence against someone for their driving habits.

Re:What this means (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46991073)

I've never trusted anyone with a .biz anyway.

They can go to 110% and beyond (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 4 months ago | (#46990067)

There are obviously huge numbers of poor and destitute that have no access to luxuries like mobile phones. Wealthier people are walking around with multiple mobile subscriptions. Either by work/personal accounts, or accounts for tablets and modems, or whatever. So I wonder how far past 100% they will be able to go? 150%? 200 even? It's a good time to be Samsung. Also hard to believe that HTC and Nokia are in so much trouble. Even a small part of 7 billion is a lot of business.

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (1)

Dave Whiteside (2055370) | about 4 months ago | (#46990133)

this dial goes up to 11

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (1)

HBI (604924) | about 4 months ago | (#46990179)

Well, making shitty phones - either because the OS sucks (Windows Phone) or the hardware is flaky (HTC - the one HTC phone I owned was not particularly good) doesn't make it extremely likely that people are going to buy your phones.

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (1)

RDW (41497) | about 4 months ago | (#46990237)

In TFA, they claim 4.5 billion unique users, and that this number has only gone up by 5% since 2011.

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990485)

How exactly do they expect to count "unique" users? I doubt the telcos give each other full details on every subscriber, and even then correlating identities is a hard problem. I have 7 active SIM cards across 5 telcos in 3 countries (all but one prepaid) - maybe more, I honestly don't know if a couple other long-unused ones were ever officially deactivated. Some don't even have any name attached to them - I bought them with cash. Among the others, my name is probably spelled in at least 4 subtly different ways (with or without diacritics, last name(s), and even using a different script). Good luck counting them as the one unique user that they represent.

Within certain countries (e.g. those that require identity verification for mobile signups, with a national ID card) this may be a lot more plausible, but once you start crossing national boundaries, all bets are off.

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 4 months ago | (#46990267)

There are obviously huge numbers of poor and destitute that have no access to luxuries like mobile phones. Wealthier people are walking around with multiple mobile subscriptions. Either by work/personal accounts, or accounts for tablets and modems, or whatever. So I wonder how far past 100% they will be able to go? 150%? 200 even? It's a good time to be Samsung. Also hard to believe that HTC and Nokia are in so much trouble. Even a small part of 7 billion is a lot of business.

Interestingly enough, mobile phones aren't the luxury in the developing world we might think them to be, considering that more people have phones than have electricity*. They're used to replace obvious things, like wired communications, and less obvious services, like banking.

*WTF, right? How do you charge your phone? [chargeall.com]

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (3, Informative)

Verdatum (1257828) | about 4 months ago | (#46990515)

I worked developing mobile telecom equipment for a company that mostly sells to undeveloped countries. This is sort of true in that undeveloped nations often don't have a land-line network in place, and it is far easier to set up a wireless network. So people are more likely to have a mobile phone than a stationary phone. However, impoverished people still don't have phones. It ends up being interesting because the standard Western usage models for phones don't work out at all. We can't calculate the number of available channels needed per subscriber the same way. Many mobile phones in these areas will be involved in active calls nearly 24 hours a day. The reason why is that people will buy a phone and account, and then hire people in shifts to stand on the street corner shouting out that they've got a phone. They then let people make calls for a markup.

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#46990369)

There are obviously huge numbers of poor and destitute that have no access to luxuries like mobile phones. Wealthier people are walking around with multiple mobile subscriptions. Either by work/personal accounts, or accounts for tablets and modems, or whatever. So I wonder how far past 100% they will be able to go? 150%? 200 even? It's a good time to be Samsung. Also hard to believe that HTC and Nokia are in so much trouble. Even a small part of 7 billion is a lot of business.

Actually, the poor and destitute are getting cellphones too - it's one of the most transformative technologies that's hit Africa. It's allowed farmers and others to send and receive money (Africa was one of the first to have a payment service that works using SMS that's slowly spreading to Europe), keep in touch, and all that.

In fact, part of the whole "providing light and electricity" is to power phone chargers.

Then there are people in Europe and Asia who have 2 or 3 cellphones, as one person I know put it, "work phone, play phone, wife phone".

It's more of a quirk that in North America, we're quite reluctant to carry more than one phone. Everyone else I've seen has no problem with 2 or more phones at the same time.

Saturation would put this around 200% of population or so.

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990373)

I suspect that the poor are actually a large part of the reason the market penetration is so much higher for phones than for televisions and computers.
Both televisions and computers require a lot of power. That takes a fairly robust infrastructure. Running communication lines is fairly expensive too. Even POTS can be prohibitive in many areas.
A cell phone on the other hand can be charged on a hand cranked generator or a tiny solar panel. And you can put up a simple cell tower for much less than a TV transmitter.
You'll get a few channels from the TV transmitter but the phone will let you call just about anyone and with even a fairly simple interface you can do things like fund transfers. In an area where the nearest bank is 100mile away that's a big deal.
It's not like most of those 7.1 billion phones are high end smart phones. Their the kind of phone that people in rich countries considered crappy 10 years ago but they get the job done.

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (1)

ripvlan (2609033) | about 4 months ago | (#46990377)

Yes - I have two. A cell phone and a data-only device (iPad w/LTE). Do Kindles count as a mobile activation?

I wonder if cars count?! I know people with cars that use cell technology to phone home.

I read through the article and he draws a distinction between people vs handsets. I didn't see though if it was voice devices or whether hotspot/data-only devices make up that stat (there was discussion with regards to revenue breakdowns).

Now - will mobile data allow a way to skip over the cable-internet providers and offer real competition?

Re:They can go to 110% and beyond (1)

Punto (100573) | about 4 months ago | (#46990415)

Ironically (not really but let's use that word) phones with multiple sim card slots are popular in 3td world countries. They're talking about active sim cards, not phones.

I broke the dam (0)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 4 months ago | (#46990099)

Tom, I'm currently ten miles outside of Beaverton, unable to get inside the town proper. We do not have any reports of fatalities yet, but we believe that the death toll may be in the hundreds of millions. Beaverton has only a population of about eight thousand, Tom, so this would be quite devastating.

Re:I broke the dam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990307)

Sounds like you're going to have a lot of wet beavers to deal with.

Great beta! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990101)

Don't know much about this news but just wanted to say that this new beta is great!

Winner determined by new sales? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990105)

Wouldn't the winner of the "platform wars" be determined by which platform has better total adoption, not by new sales? If the new sales are driven by people re-buying the same platform, that's great for the manufacturer, but doesn't indicate which platform has better acceptance, does it?

Re:Winner determined by new sales? (1)

ramper (1206148) | about 4 months ago | (#46990171)

Platform being broken down by OS type or version?

Re:Winner determined by new sales? (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | about 4 months ago | (#46990201)

Total adoption is hard to dertermine. Is a phone bought 3 years ago still used? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it's only used as a remote control for the TV while the same person has a new phone. Does that count? Hard to say.

Re:Winner determined by new sales? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46990575)

Total adoption is hard to dertermine. Is a phone bought 3 years ago still used? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it's only used as a remote control for the TV while the same person has a new phone. Does that count? Hard to say.

It's not hard to say at all - they're talking about active cellular subscriptions, i.e. active sim cards.

Does that 3 year old phone still have an active sim? Then it counts as a subscriber; if not, it doesn't.

Re:Winner determined by new sales? (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | about 4 months ago | (#46991401)

Some people have more than one SIM. Others use the same SIM in more than one device. Also, a smartphone can still can be usefull without a SIM card.

Re:Winner determined by new sales? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 4 months ago | (#46990401)

It sounds like it is an indication of what the dominant platform is going to be at some point in the future. If 80% of new sales are Android devices, and 15% are iOS devices, then that sounds like the installed base for Android is going to eclipse iOS in the next year or so. If Apple continues to release new phones regularly that fit a demand then that will swing back the other way.

Re:Winner determined by # of stupid people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990615)

Cheap people who don't care about technology and will put up with problems are the only ones using Android.

That's more than a little optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990111)

There are people on this Earth who do not have access to food or clean drinking water. There are tribes in the Amazon, among other places, who have no wish to join civilizatiion. To think that even 30% of the population of the planet has enough money to afford a cell phone and a subscription is hilarious.

Just waiting... (2)

ramper (1206148) | about 4 months ago | (#46990139)

For the US Supreme Court to decide that each individually US activated device is a person AND can contribute to campaign finance.

I have 3 Android phones, 1 tablet, 2 dumb phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990153)

The device I do the vast majority of web browsing (informational, online shopping, etc.), mail reading and gaming on is a desktop PC. None of my phones' accounts has payment data.

Re:I have 3 Android phones, 1 tablet, 2 dumb phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990299)

That's just you though. And one is quite a small sample size.

7.1 billion mobile accounts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990253)

wow, that is a lot. i didn't know so many mobile and portable devices are in use around the world. Thanks for posting.

And thanks for the URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990641)

communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2014/05/lets-do-the-big-mobile-numbers-blog-where-are-we-in-mobile-stats-in-2014the-mobile-subscription-rate-is-at-or-very-very-nea.html

Seriously?

Replacing hyphens with CR/LF, we get:
lets [too few characters per line]
do [too few characters per line]
the [too few characters per line]
big [too few characters per line]
mobile
blog
where
are
we
in
mobile
stats
in
2014the
mobile
subscription
rate
is
at
or
very
very
nea.html

I think his PC numbers are innacurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990257)

How would he know how many PCs the average family has behind a wireless access point?

I have 2 laptops, a netbook (until it died), three desktops and a linux server plus a boxee box (which might not count, because it is special purpose). So call that 6 PCs. My GF's house (non tech) has at least 2 laptops, a PC, and 2 Macs. So that's 15 between 4 people. My folks place, and they are as non-tech as it gets, has a bunch of my desktops and a laptop.

I think their PC numbers are pulled out of their arse as is the 100% penetration figure (blatantly incorrect). It's more like maybe 40% penetration. Lots of people have multiple cellphones (work and home) and some have work that requires SIM swaps so multiple, possibly many, accounts in different countries.

But hey, it makes a good story, just like any other attempt to bend statistics over a barrel for personal purposes.

they are used for alarm systems, telemetry too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990265)

are we now counting how many GSM modems are deployed worldwide? because most burglar alarms use a mobile phone line as backup if the POST line gets cut, also almost all new elevators in europe have an alarm bell that connects you to an operator using a mobile phone line, telemetry systems also use a GMS modem and even a lot new cars can dial automatically 112/911 in case of accident .. there are millions of modems in use, street lights, industrial equipment, so what? and not even counting all abandoned pre-pay phones out there.

So? (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about 4 months ago | (#46990339)

Just means we have a lot of meth dealers and people cheating on their spouses.

Re:So? (1)

Nukenbar (215420) | about 4 months ago | (#46991011)

I'm actually surprised you don't see more cell phones that allow for 2+ lines/sim cards.

Tomi Ahonen confirms it...Apple is dying (2)

swb (14022) | about 4 months ago | (#46990381)

You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict Apple's future. The hand writing is on the wall: Apple faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Apple because Apple is dying. Things are looking very bad for Apple. As many of us are already aware, Apple continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

Now where have I heard something like this before?

Re:Tomi Ahonen confirms it...Apple is dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990643)

Now where have I heard something like this before?

Netcraft confirms it.. oh hold up, my FreeBSD server is ready.

Re:Tomi Ahonen confirms it...Apple is dying (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 months ago | (#46990675)

Yeah, but it's not like they can re-hire Steve Jobs to save them this time.

Re:Tomi Ahonen confirms it...Apple is dying (2, Informative)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 4 months ago | (#46990895)

Android is taking over but taking over what? The Yugos & Fiats of the phone world. And Android is, well, fragmented into a huge number of pieces and continuing to fragment & suffer a huge amount of malware-security & upgradability issues. The question is who will take over Android and turn it into a long term stable, safe platform is it Tizen?

Articles like this are sensationalism, pure and simple.

Apple knows that in the end hardware & the OS is only part of the "mobile phone industry". The UI, app developers, content, content delivery and ease of use are the extra pieces that make a smartphone.

People exist who still only want to place phone calls 90+% of the time and they couldn't care less about anything but a cheap phone, texting and a bit of email. They simply won't be able to buy a "feature phone" soon, because few of those will be made.

Bad assumptions... (2)

Bomarc (306716) | about 4 months ago | (#46990393)

Several bad assumptions were caught -- however one that I've not seen (yet) is the assumption that all the cell phone are "smart" (aka latest tech features form and function). I for one don't want one (if you gave it to me I'd quickly sell it before it was stolen). I also know of many people that don't want one. Many of us like our old desktop/laptop/server. I'm also not into the idea of sharing my phone when I want to watch TV.

Re:Bad assumptions... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46990607)

In addition, "mobile subscriber" does not automatically equal a cell phone - you also have cellular enabled tablets, personal hotspot devices, portable cellular units for use with regular, analog telephones, etc. I have a good couple dozen of those in a closet, active and ready for deployment.

misleading totally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46990483)

A) if ten people i know dont have one vs one that does....what does that tell you....someone has a shit turd of phones activated for whatreason

B) the truer number is that 1.5 billion pcs

C) canada in 2006 when conservatives took over had 24 million net accounts...its now down to almost 16 million
thats 33% decline in canadian use of tech...WHAT TREND DOES THIS TELL YOU?

D) NSA spying???People love it right so they want more tech....RIGHT?

E) think aobut canada's foreign temporary slave labour program , a 22000 quarter canadain job loss and less money for all these gadgets....
YUP THERE IS ONLY SO LONG THIS CONTINUES....

misleading (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#46990521)

about half the world's population has at least one mobile device. about half have zero mobile devices. Of course, you see shithead-targeting stats like "six billion people have access to a mobile device", which means exactly nothing.

How many are actually in use? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 4 months ago | (#46990651)

You can't convince me that's a real number. Would you really try to convince me that some kid in Africa who is starving to death has a cellphone? Assuming the local warlord didn't take it away from him, his parents would to sell for food. If on the other hand you want to try to convince me that there have been somewhere near that many cellphone accounts activated since the invention of the cellphone, and you want to also include pre-paid 'burner' phones that may have only been used a few times, then you might be able to do that. But 8.1B in active use? Bullshit. I'd wager there's maybe 1B in active use total on Earth.

Re:How many are actually in use? (1)

Shados (741919) | about 4 months ago | (#46990969)

A -lot- of people have several devices, probably enough to make up that number. Also, its accounts activated, not active accounts. Big difference. All the people who switch phones every 6 months inflate the numbers a lot.

But don't underestimate the amount of people who have multiple active phones, be it because they have a work black berry, or because they're tools that need the latest iphone and the latest galaxy Swhatever...at the same time....

Bad assumption!!! (1)

sentiblue (3535839) | about 4 months ago | (#46990803)

This guy made a pathetic assumption!!! Just because there are 7.1B people, it doesn't mean there are 7.1B activations.... Out of that population count, there is a very good percentage (I don't know the number) of age 14 and below. And I again don't know the number here, but my guess is 90% of them don't have cell phones....

Apple bad (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 4 months ago | (#46990837)

I'm glad to hear Android beat out Apple. Keep declining, assholes!

Number of devices per capita (1)

Jizzbug (101250) | about 4 months ago | (#46990847)

The figure is obviously wrong. First of all, many individuals have multiple mobile devices, at least work and personal. Some people have additional tablets with mobile subscriptions, etc. Also, there are mobile subscriptions for alarm systems, for fleet vehicle monitoring and telemetry, for GSM modems used by SMS txt msg providers, etc., etc.

There may be nearly as many mobile device subscriptions as there are humans now, but it is definitely not 1:1 per capita worldwide.

Too Many Comments from the Basement (1)

buravirgil (137856) | about 4 months ago | (#46991047)

I know this is /., but the article doesn't claim every inhabitant of planet earth has a mobile. The guestimates in this thread based on a sense of socioeconomic class and consumer envy are pathetic. I'm fortunate enough to have worked in remote areas of the Middle East and Asia and saw the same phenomenon of "tech-neck" among agrarian cultures as I had seen in, say, Oakland or LA-- and that was some five years ago. No technology has spread as rapidly and pervasively -- including fire and the wheel.

Also, everyone has 2.4 legs and owns a hyena. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 4 months ago | (#46991051)

Averages are funny like that.

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