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February 12, 2009

4 billion never looked so good

GLOBAL – Four billion. That’s the number of mobile connections right now on this planet. Four billion. That’s a huge milestone passed in the last 24 hours, according to Wireless Intelligence, the market intelligence section of the GSM Association. Four billion. That’s two thirds what is predicted to be the total number of subscribers in just four years time.

There’s no denying this is a challenging year for everyone, but as predicted an important milestone in the development of the mobile phone industry has passed this week and it shouldn’t happen without remark. That the industry is predicting six billion connections by 2013 is a new one on me, and given the past rate of growth, really doesn’t surprise me.

Pointing out how mobiles have changed the lives of many is probably a little pointless. For those of us who’ve had mobile devices since the 90s, or even before, will be well aware of the benefits afforded us. We’ve also written plenty on how mobiles have helped those in developing economies, and the direct economic impact as a result of mobile network introduction.

But what next? What do we have to look forward to? There’s already plenty in development. The shift in emphasis to services already has me more than a little stoked. And that my device, whatever it might be, is capable of constantly developing and increasing both its functionality and at equal pace I hope, its usefulness I find utterly compelling.

And there’s so much more to come. It’s predicted that the majority of the world population’s first interaction with the Internet won’t be at a PC, but through a mobile device. We really haven’t even scratched the surface, have we? Only yesterday I wrote about how different cultures and societies face different needs, have very different perspectives and, when let loose with technology, can have very different solutions. The spread of this ingenuity as we move from four to six billion people will be immense. Isn’t that exciting?