Ericsson has just released its June 2014 Ericsson Mobility Report on the state of the planet’s mobile communications, available in its entirety as a PDF here. And the Report not only puts the planet on course for one phone connection per head, with 100 percent penetration at least 7.2 billion connections by 2015, it also shows that smartphones and mobile broadband are taking up an ever greater share of that penetration.
“The number of mobile subscriptions worldwide grew approximately 7 percent year-on-year during Q1 2014,” reads the Report. “The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew even faster over this period – at a rate of 35 percent year-on-year, reaching 2.3 billion.” Also, “around 65 percent of all mobile phones sold in Q1 2014 were smartphones.” By end 2019, Ericsson predicts 9.2 billion mobile subscriptions, with some 80 percent of them for broadband.
Global mobile penetration already stands at 93 percent, according to Ericsson’s figures. As an inhabitant of Central Europe, I’m proud to say that CEE mobile penetration runs at 144 percent, while Western Europe stands at 127 percent. North America if anything is on the trailing edge, with only 102 percent penetration by subscriptions, and only 4 million new subscriptions in the first quarter of 2014, compared to 28 million for India, 26 million for Africa, and 5 million for CEE.
Based on this data, it doesn’t need rocket science to think what kind of ereader you’ll be using in future. With Plastic Logic demonstrating flexible AMOLED displays back in April, rumors of the Kindle Phone still circulating, and phablets continuing to take an ever greater share of overall mobile phone sales, the days of the connected mobile phone as default ereading platform can’t be far off.
That said, chances are that U.S. innovations and technology will not define this brave new mobile world. With Apple continuing to enjoy an outsize share of total U.S. mobile platform and handset penetration at 41.4 percent apiece, according to comScore, many North American innovations will be channeled through the Apple bottleneck, while the explosion of subscriptions elsewhere means that app developers and OEMs will be addressing a far wider and faster-growing global market defined by Android that has left North America, and Apple, far behind.