Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Global Spread of Mobile Phones

From Techcrunch:
A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that by 2014, annual sales of low-budget mobile devices will rise to north of 700 million units, up 22% from this year. The report goes into the various schemes that have been implemented to help ‘connect the unconnected,’ or the estimated 3 billion people on the planet that do not own mobile phones.

According to Juniper’s report, of which you’ll find a summary in this free whitepaper, entry-level devices (Nokia’s definition for phones that sell for less than $60) accounted for 45% of total global shipments in 2008, which translates to 535 million units. However, Juniper also says ULC devices (ultra low-cost or devices selling for $5 on average) were only a fraction of those but growing in importance quickly. By 2014, Juniper forecasts low-cost devices to account for over 50% of all devices sold worldwide each year. Of the 700 million low-cost handsets expected to be sold in 2014, Juniper Research believes around 24% will be sold in Africa and the Middle East.
We've talked about this a few times but mobile phones serve an important role in development and are not spreading just in the developed world. It may be difficult to get away from thinking about the iPhone and hyper-tech savvy Japanese teenagers, but a whole generation of poor entrepreneurs are creating new markets through the use of mobile telephony. See the recent issue of Innovations on "Mobilizing Markets" for more (link will take you to pdf).

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