Around the world, and especially in developing countries, mobile phones are starting to become ubiquitous. Smartphones are versatile enough to become some of the best ways for people around the world to access the Internet, yet simple enough to be used by all demographics as a standard phone. So many of these phones are being built that by the end of this year, there will be more phones than human beings on the planet with a projected 7.3 billion devices.
This staggering statistic means that there will be more phones than there are people to talk to on. That means that many of these phones are not connected to any plan whatsoever, and are effectively useless to the mobile phone economy. Still, the rate at which smartphones are becoming popular is still driving the market. For telecom providers however, these “brick” phones will contribute no revenue.
Mobile phones are particularly useful in developing countries where users can share a device. In fact, a recent study conducted by Google confirmed that more people on earth have access to a mobile device than have access to a toothbrush. Another study found that many mobile owners in developing countries will even prioritize mobile bills over groceries to maintain access.
With that said, and the fact that so many cellphones are made obsolete by each new smartphone, it is no wonder there are more mobile phones than people on the planet. While this slowly increases the number of people who own cell phones, mobile carriers need people to own their own individual phones to continue making money. This is a case where the global cell phone access rate is high, while the mobile phone owner penetration rate has yet to catch up.