To put it in context, there are 480 million newspapers printed daily; 800 million automobiles registered on the planet; 1.1 billion personal computers including all desktops, laptops, notebooks and netbooks; 1.2 billion fixed landine phones; 1.4 billion internet users; 1.5 billion TV sets; 1.7 billion unique holders of a credit card of any type; and 2.1 billion unique holders of a banking account of any kind. But 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions.
That is at one level astounding but then there is visual confirmation that this is true. Even in India, without checking the numbers, there must be more mobile phone users than TV households, newspaper readers, computer users, internet subscribers, etc.
Tomi says that the first 4 billion were the classic “early adopters”. But the next 4 billion will be different. To quote
So here is the big news. The next 4 Billion will not be like you and me. They will not be wealthy enough to own a PC and have a broadband connection and read blogs or do any Twittering on a PC. Over 95% of the next 4 billion will be in the Developing World, and while there will be of course an emerging middle class who may aspire to own a netbook, those tend to be wealthy enough to already have a subscription today. Those next four billion will be either those who do not have any connection today, at all, or else are second and third subscriptions to those who already have one today. Either way, the behavior of those new subscribers is distinctly different from what the mobile industry has grown accustomed to in the past decades.
Countries in Asia and Africa led by India and China will soon dominate the cellular waves. They will decide the services, the prices, the content, the usage – in short, they will define the market. This is a the new community of consumers, of citizens who have the means to give voice to their lives.
We saw mobile phones in use during all the recent elections in India.
If one looks at some of the advertisements of the mobile phone companies like Airtel and Tata DoCoMo on Indian television, already there is this clear highlighting of their mobile subscriber base. Airtel has SRK talking about “Akele kuch bhi nahin…” and then the plug about 110 million people. DoCoMo has this “Friendship Express” theme.
One needs to watch this carefully.