Latest estimates indicate that there are around 2.6 billion smartphone users in the world today. And even though recent trends appear to suggest that the growth of the mobile population in more developed regions like North America and Europe has began to slow down, there is no sign that it has stopped growing altogether.
In five years time though, we could be looking at about 6.1 billion smartphone users in the planet, at least according to the latest yearly Mobility Report released by Ericsson. A huge chunk of this number will no doubt be attributed to the rapid growth of emerging mobile markets, which consist of eager users who are buying or owning smartphones for the first time in their lives. More significantly, by reaching over 6 billion in number by the year 2020, smartphone users will finally surpass the number of active fixed line subscriptions in the world.
In making its report, Ericsson collected information from around 100 wireless carriers around the globe. Who knows how accurate its forecast will turn out to be, but it should give us a picture of how the field of mobile communications will look like in five years time. And the picture is undeniably intriguing. 6.1 billion smartphone users is around almost three quarters of the total population of the planet, which suggests just how universal smartphones are becoming in the lives of people anywhere in the world.
And it should be noted that the 6.1 billion predicted by Ericsson only refers to users of smartphones, not the whole mobile population. As a matter of fact, it does not take into account the users of Internet of Things, mobile broadband devices, and old mobile devices that do not qualify as smartphones. A more accurate picture of the mobile population should be around 26 billion, that is in terms of the actual number of mobile or connected devices being used.
In its report, Ericsson suggested that emerging markets in the Asian Pacific, Middle Eastern, and African regions will be displaying the fastest growth in mobile usage. But how will people actually use their smartphones? The report is forecasting that data traffic on mobile will exponentially explode, ballooning to 80 percent by 2020 as more and more people surf the web through their smartphones instead of via their personal computers, laptops, or tablets. And what type of data traffic? Ericsson is betting that much of it is going to be video, with 60 percent of all data traffic consisting of video content (right now, it is at 45 percent).
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