An Introduction by David Kirkpatrick
The Ericsson Mobility Report is more than a bunch of stats about cellphones. It is a window into the transformation of our planet. The growing interconnectedness of the human race is a historic turn. We are entering an era of inclusiveness, in which the vast billions of humanity, most of them heretofore sequestered in their villages away from progress, from health, from education and information, and critically, from earning power, are suddenly being thrust into the thick of the global economy.
When a poor farmer in Niger gets his first cellphone, he probably doesn’t think of it in such grandiose terms. But such is the power of connection to the global information grid that whether he knows it or not, his world is unalterably transformed. Perhaps the first consequence will merely be that he can talk to his sister, or his son or daughter, in Niamey, hundreds of miles away where they have gone to find work. But what he learns from them, and from the other relatives, friends, and commercial contacts he will inevitably communicate with using this new digital tool, will grow and evolve. It will include information that alters more and more aspects of his life.
This dynamic occurs in every country, every day, by the millions. When you look at the charts and data in this book, think of them in those terms. If in fact the world will see a quadrupling of mobile broadband subscriptions between now and 2019, to eight billion, imagine who will be holding those incremental six billion devices. They are in most cases those who never were connected to the Internet before. Those of us who use the Net scores of time each day may find it hard to imagine such people.
Most of us have had smartphones for a number of years. Yes, they have transformed our lives, but that kind of feels like old hat. But here we learn that 55% of all new cellphone subscriptions globally are for smartphones, up from 40% just one year ago. Or that by 2016 there will be more smartphone subscriptions than those for feature phones. Statistics like that should make us recognize that there are fundamental shifts underway in our lives, in how we use resources, in our sources and flows of information, and in our planet.
Ericsson’s products are at the center of an epochal transformation, and its unique position in the mobile ecosystem helps it compile this eye-opening book. And for us at Techonomy, working with Ericsson helps us keep focused on the scope of the transformation shaking the world.