2012: More mobile devices than people

2012: More mobile devices than people
Assuming the world does not, in fact, come to an end this December, the number of mobile-connected devices on earth will exceed the number of people on it by the end of the year.

Assuming the world does not, in fact, come to an end this December, the number of mobile-connected devices on earth will exceed the number of people on it by the end of the year.

If you can get past the mouthful that is Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, you'll find a wealth of data on the phenomenal growth in the mobile space – those holdouts resisting the mobile revolution won't be enough to stop the trend that's leading toward smart devices outnumbering the population.

By 2016, there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita, with more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices – and yes, outstripping the projected population at that time (7.3 billion). And a quarter of mobile users will own two or more connected devices. 

Some key points:


Global mobile data traffic grew 2.3-fold in 2011, more than doubling for the fourth year in a row. Last year's mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000 (597 petabytes per month vs 75 petabytes per month).

The top 1 percent of mobile data subscribers generate 24 percent of mobile data traffic, down from 35 percent 1 year ago.

The Middle East and Africa will have the strongest mobile data traffic growth of any region followed by Asia Pacific and Central and Eastern Europe.

China will account for more than 10 percent of global mobile data traffic in 2016, up from less than 5 percent in 2011.

A user with an 8 GB smartphone who streams cloud video and music will consume more content over the course of two years than can be stored on the device itself.


Mobile video traffic exceeded 50 percent for the first time in 2011. Mobile video traffic was 52 percent of traffic by the end of 2011.

Two-thirds of the world's mobile data traffic will be video by 2016. Mobile video will increase 25-fold between 2011 and 2016, accounting for over 70 percent of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period.


Smartphones represent only 12 percent of total global handsets in use today, but they represent over 82 percent of total global handset traffic.

Android now beats iPhone in levels of data use. Toward the end of 2011, Android consumption was equal to iPhone consumption, if not higher, in the United States and Western Europe.

In 2011, the number of mobile-connected tablets tripled to 34 million, and each tablet generated 3.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone.

Mobile network connection speeds will increase 9-fold by 2016. The average mobile network connection speed (189 kbps in 2011) will exceed 2.9 megabits per second (Mbps) in 2016.

Mobile-connected tablets will generate almost as much traffic in 2016 as the entire global mobile network in 2012.

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