The Shrinking $1 Trillion Market Cap Club
Chart of the rise in mobile subscriptions worldwide
There was nearly 8.6 billion Mobile subscriptions worldwide as of 2021, more than the number of people on the planet.
However, while cell phones, tablets, and other devices have become very popular across the world, access to them still varies greatly from country to country.
Using data from our world in data, this chart by Paul Alvarez It tracks the rise of mobile phones around the world, and shows the discrepancies in mobile subscriptions in specific countries.
The evolution of the mobile market
Before delving into the current split, it is worth briefly explaining how the market for mobile phones and mobile devices in general has evolved over the past three decades.
Below is a summary of the history of the mobile phone market since its inception in the early 1990s.
The 1990s and early 2000s: the beginning
The first mobile device hit the market in 1983, with the launch of Motorola’s DynaTAC 8000X. This high-performance analog phone costs approximately $4,000 and needs to be recharged after 30 minutes of use.
By the early 1990s, innovation in the industry took off somewhat, with many manufacturers like Nokia and Sony starting to release their own devices.
While this gave consumers more product options to choose from, the technology was still fairly new, and mobile adoption was relatively low compared to today’s numbers.
2007 onwards: Apple Opens the Market
Although many companies introduced mobile phones, and a few launched early tablets like the PalmPilot and Nokia 770, it was Apple’s entry into the market that shook things up.
The launch of the iPhone in 2007, and the debut of the iPad in 2010, marked the beginning of a new era of mobile devices. Touchscreen design was revolutionary at the time, and they were also exceptionally more efficient with their App Store, where users could quickly download hundreds of different mobile apps and games.
This is when the advent of the mobile phone began to appear all over the world. In 2007, there were approximately 3.4 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide or about 50% of the world’s population.
Nowadays: Mobile devices are common, but they are not everywhere
In many parts of the world, millions of people rely on their mobile phones and tablets daily for work, social life, or simple daily activities such as setting directions or deciding what to prepare for dinner.
However, while total mobile phone subscriptions have outpaced the world’s population, adoption has not been spread evenly across the globe.
Here is a look at Mobile device subscriptions For every 100 people in 12 different regions:
|nation||Mobile subscriptions per 100 people (2020)|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||161|
|🇺🇸 United States||106|
|🇸🇸 South Sudan||12|
As the table above shows, in some regions there are far more mobile phone subscriptions than people, while others lag behind.
In areas with redundancy, people are likely to have multiple SIM-enabled devices and gadgets such as smart watches and connected cars. This shows how mobile subscriptions in Macau are over 300% higher than the country’s population.
On the flip side, in South Sudan, there are only 12 mobile phone subscriptions for every 100 people in the country. Poverty is widespread across the country, which helps explain the relatively low number of mobile phone subscriptions. According to the World Bank, only 7.2% of the population of South Sudan has access to electricity.
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