“We’ll have one mobile phone per child before we ever have one laptop per child.” -Inspired by Jason Grigsby, co-founder of Cloud Four, at a June 2008 presentation Web Visions event (see his blog post here: Going Fast on the Mobile Web)
There are now 3.3 billion mobile phones in use in the world, which means that 1 out of every 2 people worlwide uses a mobile phone. This makes the mobile phone the most widespread electronic device in the world. To put this into perspective, there are 900 million computers, 1.3 billion fixed landline phones, and 1.5 billion televisions. (See Communities Dominate Brands entry on Putting 2.7 billion in context: Mobile phone users)
– from Cloud Four, The Mother of all Markets
The global market penetration of cell phones is noteworthy, but the incredible rate of growth even more so. In 2000, there were about 800 million mobile subscribers (12% of the world’s population). By the end of 2008, there are expected to be over 4 billion subscribers! See a September 2008 article from the International Telecommunications Union: Worldwide mobile cellular subscribers to reach 4 billion mark late 2008 for more details. China already has the most mobile subscribers in the world (see my previous post on Mobile Phones) and by the end of 2008 the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will have approximately 1.3 billion subscribers, or one-third of all mobile phone users. Last year, Pakistan added more new mobile connections than the USA!
The US has actually fallen behind many countries in Asia-Pacific region with only 80% subscriber penetration. President Bush made widespread broadband and mobile access a priority in 2004 (although did very little to make this happen). President-Elect Obama has also stated that access is a priority of his administration. Ellen Romer of Experian Consumer Research published a report entitled U.S. Closing Mobile Usage Gap in April 2008 with statistics on US mobile usage.
Mobile connectivity is no longer exceptional, even in rural, underdeveloped regions. Mobile phones, broadly categorized as information and communications technologies (ICTs) along with internet and landlines, enable stronger and larger social networks, increase knowledge dissemination and creation, freedom of expression, political, societal, and economic participation, and adoption or creation of new technologies. 3rd-generation networks will become the norm, making internet access possible anywhere in the world without a computer. The increase in individual access to information that the internet provides is perhaps one of the most empowering and capabilities-enhancing functions of modern technology and has the potential to transform the developing world.