Thirty Countries Exceed 100% Per Capita Cell Phone Usage

Thirty Countries Exceed 100% Per Capita Cell Phone Usage

According to a recent Experian study, analyzed and reported by Ellen A. Romer  SVP, Strategic Planning, there are now 2.7 billion mobile phones in use.  Between January 2001 and December 2010, our global society will have transformed from one where 13% carried a mobile phone, to one where 70% carry one. For comparison, she reports, there are 850 million personal computers, 1.3 billion fixed landline phones, and 1.5 billion TV sets.

By the first quarter of 2006, notes the report, thirty countries had already exceeded 100% per capita cell phone usage. In that same year, there were about 241 million mobile phone users in the US (roughly 80% per capita mobile phone penetration).  The U.S. market is not expected to top 100% per capita penetration until the year 2013.

Included by the author is the Simmons New Media Study released in April 2008 comparing the usage of different mobile functions among consumers in the U.S. While 59% of people who have used a cell phone in the past 30 days have text messaged, and 49% have taken photos, less than 2% have shopped by mobile and less than 5% have used mobile GPS.

Mobile Phone Activity in the Last 30 Days

Phone Activity

% Users Engaged

Text messaging


Downloaded ring tones


Taken photos


Taken videos


Downloaded music


Played video games


Accessed Internet


Accessed GPS position


Streamed video








Source: Simmons New Media Study, April 2008

Globally, about two thirds of mobile phone users are active users of SMS text messaging, which means roughly 1.8 billion people are actively texting today, says the author

  • Globally, there are twice as many active users of SMS as are active users of email.
  • In the U.S., roughly 300 billion text messages were sent in 2007.
  • SMS is typically read within an average of 15 minutes after receipt and responded to within 60 minutes.
  • While 65% of e-mail is spam, less than 10% of SMS is spam.
  • 19% of text messagers say they use text messaging as a means of communication between themselves and colleagues
  • 62% say they use text messaging to communicate with friends
  • 55% say they use it to communicate with their significant others

On a 5-point scale, 28% of consumers who use text messaging view text messaging as a very important source of information (top box). Thirty-seven percent view it as a very important source of communication and 21% view it as an important source of entertainment, according to the report.

Continued technological innovation seems likely to continue to drive a host of services so that the mobile becomes as multi-functional as the PC, says the report. Larger screens and more storage seem likely to increase mobile usage for music and movies. Continued enhancements of mobile cameras for improved face detection/ image stabilization and low light will all contribute to mobile cameras fast becoming a basic mobile feature. Apple's disruptive innovation for touch-based user interfaces is also increasingly becoming the norm in mobile phones.

Romer concludes that the rapid rise of mobile usage and the concurrent expansion of mobile service usage creates a powerful new channel through which marketing, promotional and advertising messages can be effectively delivered to individual consumers. According to the Simmons New Media Study, over a third of consumers who are online for at least one hour a week rate themselves as being interested in receiving ads via their mobile provided there is a tangible incentive.

For more information, please visit Experian here, or to access download to a full white paper on the Study, please go here.

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