Global mobile statistics 2013 Part B: Mobile Web; mobile broadband penetration; 3G/4G subscribers and networks.
May 2013: The essential compendium of need-to-know statistics. Beware of media hype and mobile myth – put your mobile strategy on a sound footing with the latest research and stats from credible independent experts. Active mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide; top countries for mobile-broadband penetration and mobile Web users; mobile share of Web browsing v desktop browsing; Web-enabled mobile handsets; 3G and 4G networks; unlimited data plans; cost of mobile data.
SECTION B: Mobile Web; users; 3G coverage
1) Active mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide (NEW)
2) Top countries for mobile-broadband penetration (NEW): 3G subs for USA • China • Japan etc.
3) Top countries for mobile Web users: China (NEW) • Japan
4) Mobile browsing v desktop browsing
5) Most popular mobile browsers
6) Mobile-only Web users
7) Internet-ready mobile handsets
8) High-speed mobile networks
9) Unlimited data plans and cost of data
• 7, 8 and 9 are seen as the drivers of mobile Web and mobile media growth.
• If you use any of the stats, please remember to source and link to both the analysts and to mobiThinking. Please do not republish more than 5 percent of the content without seeking permission.
• Thanks to all the analysts, associations and regulators that continue to send us their research. Please keep us updated: editor(at)mobiThinking.com.
• Be the first to know when we add new stats: @mobithinking
There were 2.1 billion mobile Web users in the world at the end of 2012.
According to estimates by The ITU (June, 2012), there were 2.1 billion active mobile-broadband subscriptions in the world. That is 29.5 percent of the global population.
• Mobile-broadband subscriptions have grown 40 percent annually over the last three years.
• Mobile-broadband subscription outnumber fixed broadband subscriptions 3:1.
• In developed countries mobile-broadband users often also have access to a fixed-broadband connection, but in developing countries mobile broadband is often the only access method available to people.
• Ericsson (November 2012) forecasts that global mobile broadband subscriptions will reach 1.5 billion at the end of 2012, and 6.5 billion in 2018. The mobile phone will continue to be the dominant mobile broadband access device.
Active mobile broadband subscriptions by region in 2010 and 2011
(2011 figures are estimates)
Asia & Pacific
Active mobile broadband subscriptions
Per 100 people
Mobile broadband growth
CAGR 2010-2013 (millions)
Active mobile broadband subscriptions
Per 100 people
Source: International Telecommunication Union (February 2013)
USA, China and Japan are the top countries for number of 3G (mobile broadband) subscribers, according to Informa WCIS (Q3, 2012)
Global mobile 3G subscribers in Q4, 2012, according to Informa
Q4 2012 (est)
Q4 2012 (est.)
Source: Informa WCIS (Q3 2012)
3a) There are more mobile Internet users in China than any other country.
• China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) estimates (February 2013): that at the end of 2012, China had 420 million mobile Internet users, 64.4 million more than that at the end of 2011.
• More Chinese people access the Internet with a mobile phone (74.5 percent of all Internet users), than with a desktop PC (70.6 percent of all Internet users), according to CNNIC.
• If these stats are accurate, then China has more mobile Internet users than there are people in the US - the world’s third largest nation.
• Analysys International estimates (July 2012): There were 450 million mobile Web users in China at the end of Q1 2012.
• The combined 3G user stats from China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and suggest there are 293 million 3G users in China. While 3G isn’t essential for mobile Web access, it is the minimum requirement for high-speed mobile browsing.
Mobile subscribers in China by operator April 2013
Sources: China Mobile; China Unicom; China Telecom
• Section A: for all the latest mobile subscriber stats worldwide, including China etc.
• Mobile Web overtakes PC Web in China
• China: 1 billion mobile subscribers, 400 million mobile Web users and No1 smartphone market
• Why Asia will (continue to) dominate the mobile Web
3b) Four/fifths of Japanese people use the mobile Web, according to official stats.
• Japan has 125 million mobile subscribers (95 percent of the population), of these 103 million (84 percent of mobile users) are mobile Internet subscribers (TCA, December 2011).
• 99 percent of Japanese subscribers have a 3G handset (required for high-speed mobile). In February 2012 there were 120 million 3G handsets shared among 123 million mobile subscribers (Japan Statistics Bureau, March 2012)
• mobiThinking note: this means that 79 percent of Japanese people have access to the mobile Internet via their handset, but the number regular users could be considerably less.
3c) The percentage of people regularly accessing the mobile Web in Japan and urban China is more than double the US according to surveys by Forrester (June 2011)
Percentage of mobile subscribers accessing mobile Web at least monthly
Hong Kong (China)
Source: Forrester (June 2011)
In May 2012, 10.11 percent of Website hits/pageviews come from a handheld mobile device, according to StatCounter.
• Growth in mobile Web penetration is strongest in Asia and Africa, where PC penetration is lower.
• The worldwide leader for mobile pageviews by a considerable margin is Nokia, with 32.1% between its two operating systems Symbian (in sharp decline, reflecting falling market share) and Series 40 (which is growing fast).
Proportion of global Web pageviews from mobile devices, by region, in May 2011 and May 2012
Mobile pageviews in May 2012
Mobile pageviews in May 2011
Top mobile operating system for pageviews, by region, in May 2012
Source: StatCounter (May 2012)
• N.B. The above data is based on pageviews, the proportion of mobile visitors could be higher because the average mobile visitor surfs less than the average PC visitors. • More analysis here.
The most popular browsers, determined by Web pages visited are Opera with 21.9 percent and Android with 21.1 percent, according to StatCounter (May 2012).
Many mobile Web users are mobile-only, i.e. they do not, or very rarely also use a desktop, laptop or tablet to access the Web, according to On Device Research.
• In many developing nations, the majority of mobile Web users are mobile-only, highest include Egypt at 70 percent and India at 59 percent. • In many developing nations, the mobile-only tend to be under 25.
• In developed nations, including the US at 25 percent, a large minority of mobile Web users are mobile-only. • In developed nations, in the US particularly, many mobile-only are older people and many come from lower income households
• In Africa the 85 percent of the mobile-only Web users access the Web with a feature phone. • In Africa the top mobile activities for mobile-only users are: downloading games (55 percent); downloading music (54 percent); social networking (52 percent); search (48 percent); email (46 percent).
• Many mobile-only Web users do not have a bank account, in India this is 57 percent of the mobile-only.
• mobiThinking note: The best thing about these stats is that they are generated by m-research. On Device Research has recruited panelists of 1,000+ panelists in each target country that answer questions on mobile via the mobile Web.
• Using mobile Web-based research to deliver insights into the mobile-only generation.
• Guide to m-research.
Percentage of mobile Web users who never or infrequently use the desktop Web
Source: On Device Research (December 2010)
Survey group: 15,204
6b) In Kenya, 99 percent of Internet connections are mobile. There are 6.5 million Internet subscriptions in total and 6.4 million of those are mobile. It should be noted that this isn’t just access via mobile phones, but also PCs via 3G modems. Mobile Web subscriptions are growing at 69 percent year-on-year. In a country where mobile phone subscriptions outnumber fixed lines 107:1, there can be little doubt that the future of Web is mobile. (CCK, July 2012).
• The insider’s guide to mobile Web and marketing in Kenya 2012.
In 2011 over 85 percent of new handsets will be able to access the mobile Web. Today in US and Western Europe, 90 percent of mobile subscribers have an Internet-ready phone.
• There is a popular misconception that only smartphones can access the mobile Web. Fortunately this is far from the truth. Between 31 and 32 percent of handsets shipped in 2011 were smartphones (smartphone penetration will actually be lower than this), according to IDC, Strategy Analytics and Gartner
See: for all the latest mobile stats on mobile subscribers, handset and smartphone share.
• Gartner (March 2010) predicts that in 2011, over 85 percent of handsets shipped globally will include some form of browser.
• In mature markets, such as Western Europe and Japan, approximately 60 percent of handsets shipped will be smartphones with sophisticated browsing capabilities.
• In mature markets, the mobile Web, along with associated Web adaptation tools, will be a leading technology for business to consumer (B2C) mobile applications through 2012, and should be part of every organization's B2C technology portfolio.
• comScore (February 2011) estimates that 90 percent of mobile subscribers in US and Western Europe have a phone that can access the mobile Web. 48 percent of US and 61 percent of W. Europeans have a handset with an HTML browsers (this proportion is increasing fast), the rest have WAP browsers.
• ComScore notes that there are more than 60 different types/versions of mobile browser in use on mobile handsets. This makes mobile Web design more complicated than desktop Web design.
• dotMobi (July 2011) – mobiThinking’s parent company – estimates that there are 6,500 distinct Web-capable mobile devices models out there – that’s ignoring devices that only vary in color or phones that have be renamed/relabeled by operators etc. The majority of these are not smartphones. The specifications/features of these devices vary massively, screen sizes particularly.
• ABI Research (July 2011) predicts that 2.1 billion mobile devices will have HTML5 browsers by 2016 (up from 109 million in 2010). HTML5 will help to deliver a richer, more interactive mobile Web experience, including being able to play video without needing a plug such as the Adobe Flash Player.
• mobiThinking note on smartphones and HTML browsers: just because people may be able to view your PC Website with a mobile device with an HTML browser, doesn’t mean it is a pleasant or fulfilling experience. However big the device’s screen is, viewing a PC Website requires scrolling left and right and up and down. Don’t forget that most web-enabled phones are not smartphones and have much smaller screens. However good the mobile connection, large images will be slow to load. Many technologies commonly used on PC sites, such as Flash, do not work, or work well, on many handsets, including Apple. What’s more, mobile users have different requirements from desktop Web users and provide different opportunities for your business.
• For more on HTML5 see these video interviews: Why HTML5 changes everything – Dimitrios Kontarinis, VP of innovation, Velti and Meeting the needs of mobile customers with mobile Web/HTML5 – Stephen Gates, Starwood Hotels
• For more on why your site needs to identify and react to mobile visitors see this Guide to device detection.
45 percent of the world’s population is now covered by a 3G mobile network (required for fast mobile Internet access), according to The ITU (2011).
• 3G networks are now been launched in 159 countries. Some countries such as Sweden, Norway, Ukraine and United States are already moving to 4G.
• Ericsson (June 2012) forecasts that, by 2017, 85 percent of the world’s population will be covered by high-speed mobile networks. These networks will mostly be based on WCDMA/HSPA. LTE will be available at the high-end (led by deployments in the US, Korea, Japan and Western Europe).
• Almost 60 percent of operators plan to launch LTE-based services in 2012 (33.7 percent) or 2013 (24.9 percent), according to a survey of mobile operators by Informa (May 2012). LTE, sometimes called 4G (forth-generation), networks allow increased download and upload speeds and faster response times, in particular for data-intensive services such as video.
• The world’s largest LTE operators are Verizon Wireless (US), NTT DoCoMo (Japan) and AT&T (US), but lack of smartphone that support LTE, today, is preventing LTE becoming truly mass-market.
• Strategy Analytics (May 2012) predicts that LTE will account 90 million mobile connections in 2012, led by US, South Korea and Japan. LTE will rise sharply to one billion connections by 2017, when it will comprise 15 percent of all mobile connections.
9a) Mobile data usage is expected to grow 20-fold by 2017, as cost per megabyte continues to fall, according to Portio Research.
Cost per megabyte (MB) of mobile data (worldwide in US$)
v Monthly mobile data traffic per smartphone user (worldwide in MB).
Source: Portio Research
9b) More widespread availability of unlimited data plans has helped the US overtake and extend its lead in mobile media use (mobile Web, apps, content downloads etc) over Western Europe.
• ComScore (Feb 2011) finds that where there are now 29 percent of US subscribers have unlimited plans, there are only 8 percent in the EU5 (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain). ComScore does not provide comparable data for Japan, where mobile media penetration is 75 percent dwarfing both the US and EU5.
• But Infinita estimates that 75 percent of Japanese are on unlimited plans (it was first introduced in 2004), while over 95 percent have 3G handsets. In this Guide to Japan, Infinita states that penetration of unlimited data is the main reason mobile Web in Japan is so advanced.
Mobile Market Enablers in the U.S and W. Europe, Q4 2010, according to ComScore
Unlimited data plans
3G/4G handset ownership
Mobile media usage
Source: ComScore (February 2011)
Survey group: 27,000
• mobiThinking note: the sharp rise in data usage (often down to the activities of a minority of customers) and impact on network performance has led to network operators – such as AT&T – revising their policies on unlimited data contracts.
“We're also seeing a huge positive revenue impact from Mobile, which has grown 2.5 times in the last 12 months to a run rate of over $2.5 billion.” Larry Page, CEO, Google.
“Let's turn to mobile advertising. Larry mentioned $2.5 billion as a run rate. Our revenue growth continues to accelerate even in Mobile, driven primarily by mobile search… Many advertisers have greatly increased the size and frequency of their mobile campaigns. Mobile is becoming a must-have. This includes clients like InterContinental Hotels Group, which spans pretty much across our entire portfolio of properties, including Mobile search, Mobile GDN and AdMob.” Nikesh Arora, SVP, Google. Q3 2011 Earnings Call October, 2011
• There are 200 million mobile video playbacks every day on YouTube – YouTube internal data.
FINDING YOUR WAY AROUND THE MOBILE STATS COMPENDIUM:
Home: Full index of contents and highlights • Section A: Mobile subscribers; handset share • Section B: Mobile Web; 3G • Section C: Mobile marketing, advertising and messaging • Section D: Consumer mobile behavior • Section E: Mobile apps, app stores • Section F: Mobile payment, NFC, m-commerce, m-ticketing and m-coupons • Section G: Mobile financial services (MFS) and m-banking • Section H: VC investment in mobile.
• Please comment below or email editor (at) mobiThinking.com.
• Be the first to know when mobiThinking adds new stats, guides, competitions etc… follow mobiThinking on Twitter: @mobithinking or via the RSS feed.
• 65 percent of US smartphone shoppers prefer to use mobile Web to mobile apps for shopping.
• How greedy is your app – does it drain batteries or gobble data?
• Five common compliance and privacy mistakes
• Websites must be mobile-friendly to comply with FTC’s new digital advertising guidelines
• The insiders' guides to world’s greatest mobile markets • New country guide: Sweden
• Mobile/smartphone sales 2012: the big picture
• Guide to mobile ad networks • Latest ad network profiles: Hands; • Twinpine •
• Guide to mobile agencies • Latest agency profiles: Pontomobi • The Hyperfactory •
• Guide to mobile industry awards • Check out the video case studies: GSMA Global Mobile Awards •
• Mobile events 2013 • best conferences, great discounts and free tickets •
• The big compendium of global mobile stats
• Most popular content on mobiThinking in 2012
© mobiThinking. Feel free to reference, quote or paraphrase parts of mobiThinking articles, clearly stating and linking to mobiThinking as the source, but reprinting or republishing the whole or substantial parts of the piece without permission will not be tolerated. Please see mobiThinking’s legal statement.