Data Monday: Can Smartphones Keep Growing?

by Luke Wroblewski October 21, 2012

With millions of mobile devices entering the planet each day, it's hard to fathom just how much bigger the mobile market can get. But here's one way of seeing what's possible over the next few years.

  • There are now more than 1 billion smartphones in use worldwide: 1.038 billion in total. (source)
  • It took us 16 years to pass 1 billion but it's estimated to take only three years for the next billion smartphone users to come on board. (source)
  • 3.2 billion people, or 46% of the world's total population of 7 billion, have at least one active mobile (cellular, not just smarpthone) device. (source)
  • The global "addressable" population is 4.7 billion. (source)
  • Of the remaining 2.3 billion, 1.5 billion live in pockets with poor or no network coverage, though this should fall to 1.1 billion by 2017. The other 800m include some elderly, disabled and cash-strapped unemployed, as well as the very young or incarcerated. (source)

So smartphones vendors have close to 4 billion addressable customers over the next five years or four times the current active user base. And within the next three years, will only reach half of these customers. Looks like plenty of room for growth remains.