Home / News / Mobile Phone News / Smartphones And Tablets Way Down The Pecking Order

Smartphones And Tablets Way Down The Pecking Order

David Gilbert


Smartphones And Tablets Way Down The Pecking Order

While we may discuss at length the various nuances of Apple’s iOS or Google's Android or debate the need for a rear-facing camera on a tablet, if figures released today are to be believed the vast majority of the world couldn’t care less.

Figures released by RBC Capital Markets show that smartphone and tablet users are way down the list of consumer service and device usage, coming in behind the humble newspaper, which has long since been destined for the scrap heap according to many prophesiers. The research shows that out of a world population reaching nearly 7 billion people, there are over 5 billion mobile subscribers. However out of this figure, there are less than 400 million smartphone and tablet users. The fact that less than 10 percent of all mobile users are using smartphones or tablets shows just how little they have penetrated some areas of the world.

We saw back in January that Android had finally toppled Nokia’s Symbian as the number one smartphone OS in the final quarter of 2010. However the fact that Nokia was still way out ahead in the overall mobile phones sales figures shows just how many ‘dumb’ phones the Finnish manufacturer is still selling. The figures from RBC show that newspaper circulation and broadband connections both beat the number of smartphone/tablet users with 513 million and 555 million consumers respectively. The numbers show that 2 billion of the world’s population are connected to the internet in some way with almost 1.3 billion PCs around the globe.

The figures show that while most of the media coverage of technology is concerned with the latest and greatest smartphones or tablets, for the majority of people around the world, it matters little. Of course on the other hand the figures will show manufacturers that the potential for growth in this market is huge and devices such as the budget Orange San Francisco will become more and more popular in developing countries of the world where smartphone use is small.


March 8, 2011, 12:38 am

@Steven Marshall > You must have liked it enough to read and comment on it.

Hans Gruber

March 8, 2011, 12:55 am

What a pointless comment!


March 8, 2011, 2:19 am

@Hans Gruber > That's what I was thinking but didn't want to say.


March 8, 2011, 3:29 am

What a pointless comment on a pointless comment!


March 8, 2011, 1:34 pm

So things that are very expensive and have only been around for a short while (you could arguably date the rise of tablets and smartphones as truly mass market propositions from he release of the iPad and iPhone respectively) aren't all that popular outside developed markets. Well I never.

PCs are also becoming essential items in this day and age while tablets and smartphones are basically luxuries, esp. the former.

In other news..Pope is Catholic, sun rises in east, bears shit in woods.


March 8, 2011, 3:37 pm

Yes, perhaps these figures didn't need to be pointed out, though a bit of context is always welcome. However, this isn't the whole story. I'd bet that tablets and smartphones are also the fastest growing and most profitable markets depicted on this graph.

Hans Gruber

March 8, 2011, 3:59 pm

I agree with Chris. The lesser technologically and economically developed will likely leapfrog PCs and fixed line broadband altogether (for a while at least). That's why these kinds of basic tables are interesting, along with what we all know to be obvious.

As Mr Gilbert says in his summary, with the gap in the cost between smartphones and dumbphones narrowing at a rapid rate, all indications are that the internet revolution is set to extend using wireless technology. 5,113 mobile phone users and 394 million smartphone/tablet users suggests to all of us quite obviously that there's huge growth potential as clearly the demand is there as is the technological at more affordable price points.

@SRS & Orinj - Yeah, I thought one pointless comment deserved another. I'm grateful for the figures even if we all think we all have enough insight into technology markets to believe there's nothing of interest in the main body of text. Anyway, no offense to Mr Marshall, I was playing about and looks like we are all pretty much of the same opinion as to the value of the story and use of unhelpful comments.

David Gilbert

March 8, 2011, 5:49 pm

@all Just to clarify why I felt this story was newsworthy. A lot of the time it is easy to be blinded by the rapid rate of technology and the mind-blowing advances we are seeing at the moment at the top end of the market, but I think looking at these figures puts a sense of perspective on things which is good to do from time to time before we go back to drooling over the latest and greatest gadgets.

Arctic Fox

March 8, 2011, 6:23 pm

@David Gilbert

I could not agree more. If we did not love tech we would not be reading and contributing to TR. However, it does us no harm at all to be reminded from time to time that a bit of perspective is in order. For a majority of our fellow earthlings my Desire Z or the next guy's iPad represents a percentage of income that makes such things little more than a dream. It is worth remembering that for an awful lot of people the issue of where their next meal is coming from is of rather more importance than when HTC are going to send me Gingerbread OTA! I feel no reason to be embarrassed because I enjoy my latest shiny but I am not about to forget that there are bigger issues out there.



Hans Gruber

March 8, 2011, 6:53 pm

@David Gilbert - just to be clear I think with one or 2 exceptions, us thankless readers appreciated the story for your purpose of giving perspective to the enormous amount of press smartphones and tablets have been getting this past year or so. I think it would be nice to see more attention paid to other technologies other than mobile. Anyway, you guys at TR are not doing too bad a job so please carry on! :D

Oh, and there's me thinking the only person left on planet earth without a mobile phone (until this Xmas actually) was my dear old dad. He's got a basic Samsung mobile that he's still pretty much clueless on how to use so there's progress for ya. So it's not all about the (so called) developing world catching up. Things will be very different in future.

comments powered by Disqus