Insight : mobile phones
By 2011, mobile - or cellular - phone subscribers may reach 6 billion worldwide (Top left chart). This means that 87% of an estimated world population of 6.98 billion inhabitants will have one such device. In other words, about one mobile phone per living person aged 15 years and above.
Based on ITU (International Telecommunications Union) statistics for the period 1980-2008, our S-curve forecasts anticipate:
Substitution of mobile to fixed line phone technology (Lower chart) occurred in 2002, when mobile subscribers outnumbered by 7% fixed line subscribers:
Since 2002, the fixed line technology declined, getting closer to the brink of obsolescence.
The first mobile subscriptions took place in the early 1980s, and the industry was thriving by 1987. However, the phone technology was analogue. The business take-off, fuelled by digital GSM technology, occurred by 1992.
[Methods used to produce the graphs: dots represent actual data from ITU; lines are produced by logistic functions — the S-shaped curve and the linear Fisher-Pry transforms. The blue dots and line of the lower chart represent the fixed line subscribers.]