The number of mobile device users around the world has grown to 5.035 billion, with the latest billion users being added in just the last four years, according to new statistics released by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA mobile services trade group.
That means that 5 billion of the world's 7.5 billion residents now use mobile devices from smartphones to tablets to cellphones, reaching high saturation around the globe, according to the group.
The milestone is a "tremendous achievement for an industry that is only a few decades old," Mats Granryd, the director general of the GSMA, told MobileWorldLive, the group's official events website. "Today mobile is a truly global platform, delivering connectivity and, perhaps more importantly, social and economic opportunities to citizens in all corners of the world."
Some 55 percent of the world's 5 billion mobile users live in the Asia-Pacific region, with China accounting for the largest mobile market on Earth, with more than 1.08 billion users. That gives China 21 percent of the global wireless market and a 78 percent penetration rate, while India has the second largest global market with some 730 million users. India has 14 percent of the global market and a penetration rate of 54 percent, the report states.
North America has about 292 million mobile users, or about 6 percent of global users, with a market saturation rate of about 80 percent of the total population, according to the GSMA Intelligence data. Europe has 465 million users, totaling 9 percent of global users and a saturation rate of about 86 percent. There are about 227 million users in the Commonwealth of Independent States (western Europe), making up 5 percent of the global market with a 79 percent saturation rate.
Latin America has about 459 million users, making up 9 percent of the global market with a 71 percent saturation rate, while Sub-Saharan Africa has 436 million users and a 9 percent global share, with a 44 percent penetration rate. The Asia Pacific region has 2.76 billion mobile users, with a 55 percent global market share and a 68 percent saturation rate, while the Middle East and North Africa have 391 million users, with an 8 percent market share and a 63 percent penetration rate, according to the GSMA intelligence research.
About 67 percent of Earth's inhabitants subscribe to mobile services from a mobile carrier, according to the data.
In the second quarter of 2003, the worldwide mobile market hit the 1 billion mobile user milestone, with the second billionth mobile user coming in the first quarter of 2007. The third billionth global mobile customer came in the first quarter of 2010, while the fourth billion user was tallied in the first quarter of 2013, based on GSMA data.
By the end of this decade, the number of mobile subscribers is expected to rise to 5.7 billion, according to the GSMA, representing almost 75 percent of the world's population.
Growth will likely be fueled by upcoming advancements in mobile speeds with the onrush of 5G connectivity over the next few years, according to the group.
The GSMA is a trade group for some 800 mobile operators around the world, as well as for about 250 vendors including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies. The GSMA produces events such as Mobile World Congress and Mobile World Congress Shanghai.