You may not have noticed, but more and more of your friends and family are getting smartphones. The mobile Internet has been slowly creeping into your life and this year, it's about to get even bigger. According to global telecom equipment provider Ericsson, the number of mobile broadband subscribers reached a remarkable 500 million in 2010 and that number is about to double in 2011, bring the total to an even billion.
Ericsson breaks down the numbers by region, predicting that the Asia Pacific region will account for 400 million, with North America and Western Europe accounting for another 200 million each. Ericsson explains the growth in terms of devices and mobile content consumption:
Mobile broadband adoption has accelerated with strong growth of smartphones, connected laptops and tablets, supported by the introduction of high-performance networks. Smartphones' users are increasingly using applications and internet services on the go. Global mobile data traffic continues to grow rapidly, with Ericsson announcing in August 2010 that it had tripled in just one year. [...]Users' consumption of the internet and other media is changing as a result of the introduction of fast networks and the availability of various types of devices, including smartphones. According to TeliaSonera's survey of its LTE users, about 23 percent of them now watch more online TV, and in excess of 46 percent surf the web more frequently when away from home.
When Verizon executives spoke at a Consumer Electronics Show keynote address last week, this explosion of devices, subscribers and, most importantly, data was a key topic of their address. According to Verizon, only one in three people had a cell phone ten years ago, whereas that number is now closer to nine in 10, with wireless data consumption more than doubling every year.
In terms of the future, Ericsson predicts that the number of mobile broadband subscribers will nearly quadruple by 2015, with subscriptions topping 3.8 billion.
But what does all of this mean for you, the smartphone owning consumer? Likely, the end of your unlimited data plan and the beginning of tiered pricing, if that hasn't happened already.