Global smartphone penetration still below 10%

“Tomi Ahonen has compiled a fascinating data set on 42 major countries’ smartphone penetration rate,” Horace Dediu reports for Asymco. “The compilation is based on Netsize Guide, Informa, Google and Ipsos data. It is a complex sample with multiple possible sources of error… However, this is a breakthrough. It’s the first time I’ve seen this level of detail at a country level in the public domain.”

Dediu reports, “ITU data shows that at the end of 2010 there were 5.4 billion global subs. This survey was conducted more recently so the total is likely much higher (perhaps around 6 billion). The survey thus covers about 72% of the world. That implies that at least 90% of the market remains unserved.”

Much more in the full article, with excellent charts, here.

MacDailyNews Take: Headroom.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. @ MDN: how trite you are. do you have any clue where the practical economic ceiling is for global cell phone penetration?

    you may wish to better tailor your comments toward the majority of potential consumers rather than the ~ 10% who own, invest, or otherwise understand Apple’s US-centric position and progress.

      1. come on, Rdiddly, you know that’s what every successful publication does: attracts an increasing readership. on this article, MDN again fails miserably. a one-word MDN response? that won’t even attract loyal Apple users, let alone new customers to the fold. don’t you think MDN could try a little harder to be more objective and insightful with news articles, especially those that are not Apple-centric in origin?

        on other news postings, MDN goes out of its way to lean its political opinioneering on the audience regardless of Apple relevance. that’s guaranteed to turn off the majority of tech readers.

        for this reason and many others, people who ask me where to go for objective Apple / Mac advice usually get sent to MDN last, not first.

        but i do post here often for entertainment value… so keep up the discussion friends.

    1. … part of that significant majority of non-smart-phone owners and users, I don’t agree with your analysis. I fully expect PC owners to have higher smart-phone usage rates than non-owners. And Mac owners (us) to have an even higher rate of usage. And a preference for Apple’s model, as well.
      Yes … Apple’s marketing targets US customers. Not just that, but Consumers to the near-exclusion of “Enterprise”. A modest-sized niche of the market, yet they seem to be doing reasonably well serving that small portion. I think it would be a mistake for MDN to ignore the iOS portion of Apple’s market – especially since it is growing even faster than the OSX portion.

    2. WTF? Buddy, you need to relax. MDN’s take wasn’t very serious, certainly not in the way you are taking it. As for whether MDN’s one word take could be considered “US-centric” that’s utter tripe.

      Your take seems to imply that MDN’s was either mocking or pejorative. It was neither. There’s no connotations at all attached with “headroom”. I wonder if you are even thinking of the same definition that we in the US use.

    1. The 3GS is free…. Oh wait, you mean the plans. Yeah, those are expensive. Thankfully it’s a monthly charge otherwise I might notice how much I’m spending on this thing.

    2. Web connected phones are cheaper and easier to use than Web connected computers. In most parts of the world, web phones will vastly outnumber computers, especially among poor people.

  2. Until one can get a reasonable data plan to use a reasonable amount of data on monthly basis, (less than $25-30 a month) and text messages aren’t 20 cents a shot without a $5-$10-$20-$30 a month text plan, you are not going to see smart phone growth significantly. (text messages for smart phones should be just part of the data plan)

    1. Its interesting the second highest smart phone penetration rate in the world (Canad) has one of the highest cell phone rates in the world. Someone most see some real value in using the smart phones.

  3. Call me a luddite, but guess what? Not everyone needs a smartphone. What I want is an Ipod with a regular phone plan. Most of us are not that important that we need data all the time. $199 with 16 gig and choose your carrier.

    1. I would love to have an iPhone 4S and I make enough money to buy one. But I cannot justify the monthly cost of the plan. I just don’t need data over 3G that much.

      I hold cell phone companies and cable companies in very poor regard. Their contracts ought to start with “bend over.” The cell phone system uses pricing tiers with punitive overage fees to inflate revenues and profits, and then supplements that with ridiculous texting fees and the like, as if it isn’t all data. And don’t get me started with the fact that you must have separate plans for your iPhone and iPad and any other 3G or 4G device unless you want to carry a wifi hotspot around with you. Total bullcrap.

  4. @ Kingme

    Agree with your comments about the cell phone companies. Hence my suggestoin regarding the perfect phone: a Ipod touch with cellphone service only i.e. talks and text. If you need web, email etc, you would need to find wifi, just like an Ipod touch now. which isn’t that hard to do. Apple would sell millions of these.

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