Over 90 Percent Of The World's Population Doesn't Have A Smartphone (Yet)

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 14 2011 3:58 PM

Over 90 Percent Of The World's Population Doesn't Have A Smartphone (Yet)

I think that one of the least-understood facts about the competition between Apple's iOS ecosystem, Google's Android, and Microsoft's effort to re-launching Windows as a mobile platform is that worldwide smartphone penetration is still less than ten percent. Even in rich countries like the US, Canada, and Sweden less than half the population owns a smartphone. In Germany, it's below 25 percent.

I think that if you look at the situation realistically, the competition isn't between the major smartphone platforms it's between smartphones and non-use of smartphones. There's huge room for growth for any platform capable of delivering a decent product and the main issue isn't the Andoid-vs-iPhone sniping but supply bottlenecks of touchscreens and (especially) bandwidth. Apple couldn't build a billion iPhones (nor could Samsung build a billion Galaxy Nexuses) even if people wanted them, and even if they somehow built them all the mobile networks would crash if people tried to use them.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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