The United States has reached unprecedented levels of connectivity. By some estimates, more than two-thirds of the population is connected on cell phones. Undisputedly, that is a triumph for the information age. However, the level of penetration presents a problem for the wireless carriers. Compound growth accelerated at staggering levels year-over-year between 2001 and 2008, but a clear drop-off in new subscribers occurred between 2008 and 2009. The dwindling new subscriber base between 2008 and 2009 continued over the following year, alerting carriers that their old business models of targeting cell phone-less markets were soon to be less hearty. To be viable, carriers were going to have to find a new vision for filling their large, extended coffers.
In stepped the innovators. The two biggest winners swinging into 2010 were Apple and Google, two companies who recognized the demand for innovative, versatile devices. Leveraging their smartphones and charging a premium, they cut swaths of market shares from their competitors, primarily in the US and Western Europe. While Nokia still dominated the global market with 36.4 percent, followed by Motorola with 19.5 percent, many analysts believe the core of telecom has been shaken . Why? The two leaders’ shares shrunk over the past year, meaning the other companies were siphoning off their market.
Apple and Google, along with other smartphone providers like HTC, RIM, and LG have been the drivers of new cell-phone-usage trends in the US over the past two years. With 18 percent of mobile subscribers in the US wielding smartphones, usage has become more versatile. People use applications, cameras, and text messaging often more frequently than calling.
By all accounts, however, Apple and Google are small compared to Nokia and Motorola. While the two wireless giants were caught off guard and slightly behind the curve in the past two years, strong revenue streams over the past two decades may change the game yet again.
Globally, network penetration has ramped up over the past decade as well. According to an industry review by The Insight Research Corporation (IRC) the Asia-Pacific region has had a compound annual growth rate of 17.9 percent over the past decade, buoyed by China and India. There are over 800 million cell phone subscribers today in China alone. Global sales are ramping up too. By the second quarter of 2010 mobile phone sales to end users totaled 325.6 million units, a 13.8 percent increase from the same period in 2009, according to Garner, Inc. Of these sales, 19 percent were accounted for by smartphones.
What follows is a compendium of a few different studies regarding current cell phone usage trends.
Cell Phone Usage Statistics (US)
According to the Nielsen 2010 Media Industry Fact Sheet there are over 223 million U.S. mobile phone users over the age of 13
16.7 million of these users also access the web via their cell phones (up from 13 percent in 2008), according to the same study.
18 percent of mobile devices in the US are smartphones (up from 13 percent in 2008), according to Nielsen
8 percent of mobile device users stream audio, according to Nielsen
7 percent view video on their mobile devices, according to the study
25 percent of all mobile devices sold in Q3 2009 were smartphones. On that trajectory, Nielsen estimates that between 40- and 50 percent will be smartphones in 2010.
According to CTIA, The Wireless Association, the total minutes of cell phone use for Americans in 2009 was 2.3 trillion
Americans sent 152.7 billion SMS messages a month and 1.56 trillion over the course of the year during 2009, according to CTIA
35 percent of US adults have software applications (apps) while 11 percent are unsure if their phone is equipped with apps, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project
Pew reports that, among cell phone users, 29 percent have downloaded apps and 13 percent have paid to download apps
Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors Worldwide at Year End 2009: Cellular News
- Nokia—market share 36.4 percent
- Samsung—market share 19.5 percent
- LG—market share 10.1 percent
- Motorola—market share 4.8 percent
- Sony Ericsson—market share 4.5 percent