We are quickly entering a world in which mobile phones and devices will be the premier form of communication and internet interaction. In order to imagine what such a world will look like, we’ve outlined many current trends surrounding mobile phones, their usage, adoption and capabilities.
Thanks to the prevalence of mobile phones, internet usage and access is exponentially increasing. In 2013, roughly two and a half billion people had access to the web. As of next year, that number will be closer to three and a half billion people. By 2025, we expect that more than five billion people will have access to the web (roughly two-thirds of the world’s population), with a large number of them accessing the web primarily through mobile devices.
The growth in the percentage of internet connections made via mobile devices in the coming years is expected to be phenomenal. As of 2013, roughly 1 in 6 internet access sessions was made via a mobile device. In just ten years’ time, it is expected that roughly 80 percent of all internet connections will occur via mobile connections.
UK Mobile Adoption Rates
How prevalent are mobile devices in the United Kingdom today? Approximately three-fourths of the population had access to a smartphone just two years ago. Today, that number stands at around 90 percent. Two years from now, the percentage of UK residents with smartphones is expected to be around 96 percent, and will reach near universal adoption by 2020.
For larger devices such as tablets, roughly 30 percent had one in 2013. Today, a little less than half of all UK residents access the web via tablets. By 2017, this number will be closer to 55 percent. While the rate of tablet adoption continues to grow from year to year, its adoption has been much slower than that of smartphones.
In 2012, roughly one percent of the world had access to a 4G connection. By 2017, the number of mobile connections made via 4G networks is expected to climb to around one billion (15 percent of the world).
Once considered a niche concept, the presence of apps in today’s mobile society is as normal as having a mobile phone. Just two years ago, roughly 80 billion app downloads occurred across all devices. By next year, that number is expected to quadruple – to roughly 310 billion app downloads for 2016.
Economic Impact of Mobile Devices
More and more individuals are now willing to spend money via mobile devices on products and services than were in the past. In 2012, roughly $160 billion was spent via mobile devices. By 2017, that number will increase to nearly $750 billion, with more than 450 million people making such purchases. By 2020, it is expected that half of all transactions made will occur via mobile devices, whether in-store or for online purchases.
In terms of sheer revenue, the amount that will be shifted to and fro via mobile devices continues to grow. In 2012, around $1.5 trillion in global revenue was sent and received by mobile users. In 2017, that number will be closer to $2 trillion.
In 2011, the number of devices connected to the web exceeded the number of people on the planet for the first time ever. The growth in this regard continues to skyrocket, with no end in sight. In 2013, the number of mobile and desktop devices connected to the internet approached 11 billion; by 2020, this number is expected to reach nearly 50 billion. The vast majority of all new devices connecting to the internet are mobile devices, explaining how we continue to become more and more hard-wired into the information age.
One example of internet-connected devices that will continue to expand over the coming decades is the automobile. Right now, driverless cars are being tested and deployed, but by 2040, it is estimated that more than two-thirds of all vehicles globally will be driverless. In order to accommodate this, a seemingly limitless number of micro devices and sensors will be active and functioning throughout our roads, bridges and other infrastructure. These devices will measure everything from temperature and personal health to weather conditions and environmental quality.
One thing is absolutely clear: the prevalence of mobile devices will only continue to increase. As more and more people in the second and third worlds begin to access the internet through these relatively affordable devices, the economic structures and social concepts worldwide will continue to evolve. In a future not too far away, most people will have dozens of internet-connected mobile devices that can be used to monitor surroundings, access information, interact with others and purchase/sell items at a moment’s notice. While we cannot truly visualise what such a world will look like, these trends help give us a broader idea of what to expect.