World mobile population now numbers 5 billion

Welcome to the 5 billionth mobile user - Image Ken Banks,

Last week ABI research were saying that by the end of 2010 the worldwide mobile population would exceed five billion, but according to analysts The Mobile World we’ve already hit the 5 billionth user this weekend. And although it was the July 4 weekend the five billionth mobile subscriber was probably living in India or China, such is the growth of mobile in those two countries.

The Mobile World said that the five billionth landmark has been achieved through rapid expansion in the thriving Indian and Chinese markets, and the instances of people in North America and Western Europe owning two or more devices.

The group found that Q1 2010 saw net additions of 168m, taking the total to 4.82 billion, and the Q2 gain is likely to have surpassed this figure, with China and India adding 50m in April and May alone.

These two markets are the world’s largest, and they accounted for almost 28% of the global total at the end of Q1, but their contribution to the net quarterly gain in connections was double this at 56%. In absolute terms, the two markets added 94m in the three months ending 31st March 2010.

By contrast, the G7 nations accounted for just 4.6% of the Q1 gain. If we exclude the US, this figure falls to a mere 1.7%.

The BRIC grouping (Brazil, Russia, India and China) made up 59.2% of the total net additions, and the so-called ‘Next Eleven’, which includes Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico and Iran, contributed 20.1%.

With the world population at around 6.8bn, the global mobile penetration rate stood at just under 71% at the end of Q1. The Q2 figure is likely to be around 73%, while the 100% level will be reached before the end of 2014.

Mobile World analyst John Tysoe said: “It’s a pretty short odds bet that today (Saturday) or maybe tomorrow, ‘Mr 5bn’ will be connected, and he’s almost certainly an Indian.”

What isn’t mentioned is the growth of mobile in Africa. The ABI research report pinpoints Africa as the fastest growing mobile market with a year-over-year growth of over 22%.

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