Mobile Cellular Subscriptions & Smartphone Usage by Country

by Ben Lorica (last updated Oct/2011)

To see the size of the market for smartphones and mobile apps, one need only look at the recent statistics from the International Telecommunications Union and Cisco. To save you time I constructed graphs by region for the number of (1) mobile cellular subscriptions and (2) Smartphone users. In addition I looked at the following measure of adoption:

Penetration Ratio = (Mobile Cellular Subscriptions) / Population

The combination of users with multiple mobile subscriptions and sizable expat workforce means that in many countries in the Middle East the number of mobile subscriptions exceeds the population (Penetration Ratio > 100%). In contrast in many countries in Africa and Asia there are still considerable numbers of people who have yet to become "mobile subscribers".

Estimates for the number of smartphone users are from Table 1 of the Cisco Study1. A quick search for usage statistics for a few countries suggests that Cisco's numbers tend to be on the low end2. Nonetheless I use Cisco's estimates in the graphs below to dramatize the huge growth prospects for Smartphone manufacturers and app developers:

"Currently, Italy has the highest smartphone penetration, and will continue to be the smartphone leader through the forecast period. Starting at a low base, India will experience the highest increase in smartphone penetration, which will triple over the forecast period, and number of smartphone users, which will grow 5.5 fold by 2014."
Select Region:

2010 Mobile Cellular Subscriptions and 2010 Smartphone Users
[ Source: ITU and Cisco (Table 1)]

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  • (1) Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2009-2014

    (2) Quick use of Google yielded higher estimates for Singapore, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Japan among others.

    (3) US smartphone usage is from Nielsen's Q3-2011 survey.  
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