By Kevin C. Tofel, GigaOM Updated. The world will see one billion mobile broadband subscribers this year, doubling from the 500 million mobile web users in 2010, according to Ericsson, a provider of global telecom equipment. An increasing rate of smartphone adoption is the key driver, although connected laptops, tablets, USB data sticks and mobile hotspots will also add to the mobile subscriber numbers to a lesser extent. By the end of 2011, Ericsson estimates 400 million mobile broadband subscribers will be from the Asia-Pacific region, while Western Europe and North America will follow with 200 million each. Indeed, one can see the growth effects that smartphone adoption is having on mobile broadband subscriptions by looking backward in time:
- In 1998, long before the smartphone, global mobile subscribers — I wouldn’t call it broadband back then — numbered a scant 57,200 says Om, who was covering the nascent market at the time. Given slow networks, limited infrastructure and high costs, this number isn’t surprising.
- It took until 2008 to hit 400 million mobile broadband subscribers, and much of that growth came from the early rise of the smartphone, which early adopters began to use in the mid-2000s.
- From 2008 to 2010, mobile data subscriptions jumped another 25 percent, reaching an estimated 500 million. That’s no coincidence, since smartphones running iOS, Android, Symbian, BlackBerry and other mobile platforms are all on the rise as compared to less-connected feature phones.
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