Over five billion people now have mobile phones – that’s two-thirds of the global population. Considering that 10 years ago, the number was around two billion, it’s no wonder that mobile phones is one of the fastest growing technologies, ever.
With such widespread distribution, what are the possibilities for mobile? What opportunities have not been explored? How will the market continue to grow? And, what does it mean for eCommerce? These are some of the questions considered in a new report by GSMA Intelligence, Global Mobile Trends 2017.
As mobile is such a cornerstone technology for growth and development, the report is a vital study for any business doing business across borders. It considers issues such as consumer uptake, mobile connectivity technology and networks, financial performance, and the competitive landscape of the mobile industry, as well as regional considerations.
While market reach continues to grow, the pace of new subscribers has slowed. It’s taken four years to jump from four billion to five billion users and the expectation is that it’ll take even longer to grow the next billion users. However, between now and 2020, there’s still an estimated 600 million+ users that will join the mobile revolution.
There are still significant growth opportunities from expanding services. From 2016-2025, 1.2 billion users will adopt 5G, the most advanced and highest bandwidth mobile communication technology available today. Triple that (3.6 billion) will adopt 4G, enabling better mobile experiences for a huge swath of people.
They’ll need faster connections, as the drive for richer and more varied experiences will drive on. Already 75 percent of smart phone users watch video on their mobile and, as both the number of views and video quality increases, video will be the main driver of global data traffic growth.
Another technology that can take advantage of the higher bandwidth is virtual reality (VR). While the technology hasn’t taken off yet and there are obstacles to wide-spread adoption, the opportunity is significant. Recently, Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook’s goal was to have one billion users into VR – that’s a lot of bandwidth.
While we tend to think mobile as synonymous with smart phones, many other mobile technologies are available, or coming soon. Consider the recently announced Apple Watch Series 3, which doesn’t need a phone to do its magic. From smart speakers to fitness trackers, other so-called smart devices are proliferating and many will require mobile connections.
These devices aren’t just for consumers. The internet of things (IoT) will put connectivity into a whole host of objects and sensors. The big growth of these connections is by the enterprise, as by 2020 there’ll be over 10 billion IoT connections for that segment.
With all those devices and abundant bandwidth available, the future of the enterprise looks like something out of science fiction; “massive IoT, industrial factories using robotics, transport monitoring and control, public safety, mass-market personalized content delivery and augmented reality.”
Unfortunately, there is still a big divide between the haves and the have-nots when it comes to internet access; even now 50 percent of the world’s population is not on the internet. That’s 3.7 billion people that can’t participate in the global conversation, or acquire the knowledge and information to help them and their families get ahead.
One third of those individuals don’t have access to the necessary bandwidth to get online. But two-thirds currently could get online and are not taking the opportunity. The report mentions a few contributing factors:
- Affordability (handset price, tariffs, income, inequality, taxation)
- Consumer readiness (basic skills, gender inequality)
- Content (local relevance, availability)
Thus, the issue isn’t just about technology, so improving coverage and affordability only goes so far. For Africa, which has the lowest Internet penetration, local content which helps with local issues (such as jobs) would go a long way to get more people online.
As the mobile phone has such widespread distribution, it is a powerful real-time source for verifying and authenticating individuals. Mobile phone data, such as the SIM chip, offers unique data, which can be used for Know Your Customer (KYC) registration.
Two-form authentication (2FA) using text messaging provides an additional layer of security to demonstrate the user has possession of the device. With biometric technology becoming standard in new smart phones, mobile identity is a powerful way to increase the level of trust for transactions.
As technology advances with developments in electronic identity, security and privacy, mobile looks like the center of it all, enabling a whole host of new advanced services – all from the palm of our hands.