This just in from Telecoms.com: Mobile subscriber numbers exceed 1.5 billion:
Driven by strong growth in emerging markets, EMC forecasts that the 2 billion milestone will be surpassed ahead of recent industry predictions. EMC expects 2.45 billion mobile subscriptions by the end of 2009.
Despite long since reaching saturation point in Western Europe, the mobile industry is still poised for sustained growth thanks to the enormous potential of emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil. By 2009 there are forecast to be almost 550 million subscribers in China alone, more than twice as many as in the second largest market, the USA. India, currently the world's 13th largest market, is forecast to quadruple in size to take third place with 117 million subscribers. Boosted by the TDMA to GSM migration, Brazil is on track to hit 100 million subscribers in late 2008, up from just over 50 million currently.
"With a global penetration rate of just 23%, there are still almost five billion potential new mobile users worldwide and this represents a tremendous opportunity for the industry," commented Mann. Continued subscriber growth can be achieved by further widening the addressable market for mobile services to include segments of the population that have previously been unable to afford a mobile phone service or have lived outside areas of mobile phone coverage, or both.
The story also notes that as of December 2003, the U.S. had 157.3 million mobile users, and is second only to China in terms of mobile subscriber numbers
This again goes back to my point about how the mobile sector is the most important industry Silicon Valley should be targeting right now. There's *so* much opportunity, not just to sell to the rest of the world, but here in the U.S. where we are only at about 60% penetration. Americans are relatively affluent and once they have advanced handsets in hand, they're going to be willing to pay to do stuff with them.
Add to this Sprint and Cingular's announcements about 3G rollouts (the former far more closer than the latter) and we see that the tidal wave is rolling towards us quickly. Quicker, it seems, than even the analysts predict.