No major revelations today - just some fun with numbers...

 

As pointed out by Mary Meeker in her most recent update to the KPCB Internet Trends (2011) report, the GSM Association has announced that approximately 85% of the world's population is now covered by a commercial wireless network.  This does not mean that mobile penetration worldwide is at 85%, or that 8.5 of every 10 people have a cell phone.  In fact, mobile penetration still stands at approximately 77%.  Instead, it means that 85% of the world's population has the ABILITY to HAVE a cell phone.

 

This number is staggering for two reasons:

 

1) When compared to the United Nations report on the global electrical grid, more people (85%) have access to a cell phone than have ability to charge it (80%).  In fact, should the charging problem be resolved (generators, centralized power sources), the cell phone might be the brightest light in some people's houses.

 

2) With 6.975 billion people in the world (per the US Census Bureau World Population Clock), this points to potential 5.9 billion mobile subscribers.  Given that there were 5.3 billion mobile subscribers at the end of 2010, approximately 90% of the world's population who CAN have a mobile phone DO have a mobile phone. The land grab for subscribers is nearing its end, and growth is harder to come by for traditional mobile carriers.  Going forward, mobile carriers will have to (a) increase coverage maps to reach new subscribers (b) monetize existing subscribers differently (c) churn subscribers from other carriers