Last week, International Data Corporation (IDC) released their Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. While this might sound like a quant-heavy report full of metrics that aren’t particularly interesting to the enterprise public at large, there was one huge milestone this report detailed:
Mobile smartphone shipments topped one billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) units in 2013. Let me reiterate:
1,000,000,000 smartphones were sold worldwide last year. That’s up almost 40% from the 725 million that were sold the year before. Furthermore, that represented 55.1% of all mobile phone sales, which is an annual increase of nearly 42% in its own right.
It’s not news that mobile smartphone usage is skyrocketing — everyone knows that by now. But, the scale that this growth has achieved this quickly truly is astonishing. There’s a little over seven billion people on earth, and one in seven of them bought a smartphone last year. Furthermore, there are 1.5 billion individuals that own a smartphone currently, according to Business Insider’s research — that’s 22% of all people on the planet. Business Insider’s same report also shows that tablet adoption is actually occurring faster than smartphones phones before them.
It took mobile phones four years to reach six percent global market penetration; it has taken tablets half that time.
What might be even more shocking, though, is that while smartphone global market penetration has increased 440 percent (from 5 percent to 22 percent) in four short years, PCs have only gained six percentage points per capita in the last six years combined. Yes, PC adoption is still growing, but it is paltry compared to the growth enjoyed by smartphones and tablets. One percent growth for six straight years is anemic when contrasted against the humongous gains smartphones and tablets are making every year.
The growth in smartphone adoption was fueled in large part by growth in international markets, specifically in China and India. Cheap, Android-based phones took the lion’s share of these emerging markets last year. That being said, China’s largest mobile phone carrier just started selling the iPhone 5s and 5c, meaning that market is ripe for growth from Apple as well as Samsung (the two largest smartphone manufacturers in the world). Huawei, the third largest phone manufacturer, saw the largest year-over-year growth while Lenovo and LG maintained their fourth and fifth places, respectively.
The other big trend IDC noted was the growth in “large-screen devices,” as can be seen by the ever-increasing product line from Samsung sporting larger and larger screens. The Apple rumor mill seems to be spinning a similar story from Cupertino, allegedly planning to release two larger screen iPhones in 2014.
All of these statistics underline the advice we’ve been preaching for years — the growth in smartphone market penetration is accelerating. Tablet growth is following close on its heels at a quicker clip than smartphones achieved early on. All of this points to a future less tied to personal computers.
So ask yourself, have you positioned your company to capitalize on this global trend? Do you have a mobile strategy that anticipates smartphone usage worldwide’s growth? Are you aware of the market shift toward tablets, gaining momentum faster than smartphones did before them? Do you understand the necessity of cross-platform app development with the huge growth in Android-based devices overseas? Do you know the difference between an app developer and a mobile solutions provider and why that matters? Are you aware of new technological possibilities on mobile platforms?
Even if you don’t have solid answers to all of those questions, you can still make strong moves into the mobile space with a few preliminary steps. Even if you’re already in the mobile space, these statistics show yet again that if anything, you need to increase that investment.
The future of mobility is today — don’t let it leave you in its wake.