Phone popularity contest
The number of people with mobile subscriptions across the globe is expected to reach a staggering 5 billion this September, according to a market research firm.
iSuppli has predicted that 73.4 percent of the global population will have a mobile subscription by the end of this month.
"If the importance of an event can be measured by the number of people it affects, then the proliferation of wireless communications stands out as one of the most significant phenomena in the history of technology," said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli.
"Wireless communication now has spread to every nation, every age and every income level, becoming a basic staple like food, clothing and shelter. Wireless now represents the biggest stage that any technology market has ever played on, offering unlimited opportunities for members of the mobile communications supply chain."
Once the 5bn barrier is breached, the firm predicts that global mobile subscriptions will rise by an extra 100m, crossing the 5.1bn threshold by the end of 2010.
This further increase is expected to mean that 74.5 percent of the worldwide population will have a mobile where they make recurring payment for services, whether it is a smartphone or ultra low cost handset.
Perhaps predictably, the penetration of wireless subscriptions varies widely by regions. At the low end is the combined Africa and Middle East region, where penetration amounts to 50 percent, while in Western Europe, there are more subscriptions than citizens, with penetration amounting to an amazing 157.6 percent.
Rebello said: "Because of the prevalence of mobile communications, the focus of the global technology supply chain has shifted away from the slower-growing computer market toward fast-expanding wireless-oriented platforms. The vast size of the installed base means wireless delivers greater opportunities for content and service developers to reach a large portion of the population. Furthermore, the evolution of mobile handsets into smart phones is leading to the deployment of more value-added services, software and components."
Meanwhile, iSuppli estimated that the market for preloaded applications that are already included in mobile phones when consumers buy them will expand to $7.7bn in 2014, up from $4.4bn in 2010.
In terms of components, the research also found that the wireless communications semiconductor market is set to swell to over $80bn in 2014, rising at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.1 percent from $60.9bn in 2010. In contrast, the data processing semiconductor market will see its revenue expand at a CAGR of only 2.6 percent during the same period.
Here is a graph to show the growth of mobile device subscriptions across the globe.