One Billion Smartphones Are Now Now In Use Worldwide
October 18, 2012

One Billion Smartphones Are Now In Use Worldwide

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Back in 1996, Finnish phone maker Nokia released the Nokia 9000 Communicator to the world. Packed with 8 megabytes of memory, a 4.5-inch monochrome display, and a clever little keyboard which was revealed when the top of the device was flipped up, this clunky-looking device sparked an entirely new market in telecommunications.

While the phone was incredibly primitive and even laughable by today´s standards, the 9000 Communicator was top of the line in 1996, capable of sending email, text messages, connecting to a digital camera, calendaring and even surfing the web; All things we use our Android, iPhones and Windows Phones for nowadays.

According to Scott Bicheno, (and many others) the Nokia 9000 was the world´s first “modern smartphone,” and we have certainly come a long way since, not only in technology but the overall adoption of these devices. First seen as a tool for elite, on-the-go executives, today´s smartphones are not only rising in popularity, they´re skyrocketing.

According to a report last week from Strategy Analytics, there are now more than 1 billion smartphones currently in use around the world. Bicheno, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, explained that while the Nokia 9000 Communicator kicked it all off, the popularity of these devices really picked up in 2007; The Year of the iPhone.

“Nokia remained a dominant force in smartphones for over a decade until the arrival of Apple´s iconic iPhone in 2007,” said Bicheno in a press statement.

“The iPhone revolutionized smartphone design and it catalyzed industry growth. By the third quarter of 2011, we estimate there were 708 million smartphones in use worldwide. After a further year of soaring demand, the number of smartphones in use worldwide reached 1.038 billion units during the third quarter of 2012.”

Based on previous growth, this 1 billion number could be even higher by the time the year is through.

According to data from Strategy Analytics, there were some 959 million smartphones in use all over the world in the second quarter. While jumping from 959 million to 1 billion in a quarter shows signs of impressive growth, the fact that this number has grown from 708 million in the same quarter last year is nearly staggering.

According to Neil Mawston, the executive director at Strategy Analytics, nearly 1 in 7 people around the world, on average, owned a smartphone in the third quarter. For all this growth, Mawston believes there´s enough of a market in emerging countries to ensure this number gets even higher.

"Most of the world does not yet own a smartphone and there remains huge scope for future growth, particularly in emerging markets such as China, India and Africa," said Mawston.

“The first billion smartphones in use worldwide took 16 years to reach, but we forecast the next billion to be achieved in less than three years, by 2015.”

A lot has changed in the smartphone landscape since 1996´s Communicator. Nokia, Palm and RIM, once heavyweights in the early smartphone days, have all but disappeared from today´s conversation. Nokia struggles to make their partnership with Microsoft gain traction in a highly competitive market, Palm has been shut down and RIM has been in a gloriously slow descent since 2010. The market now belongs to Apple and Google, companies who in 1996 were struggling to stay alive in the midst of a constant changing of the guard and not yet officially founded, respectively.