With a little perspective offered by historical data, the story of smartphone and tablet growth is truly amazing. By the end of this year, 6% of the global population will own a tablet, 20% will own PCs, and 22% will own smartphones.
At BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s subscription research service, we recently calculated these statistics by taking our proprietary estimates for active devices globally (i.e., installed base) as a percentage of the planet’s population by year, resulting in a per-capita annual penetration rate.
Our research reveals the point in time when the global per-capita rate of smartphone ownership beat that of personal computers: sometime in mid-2012. The tipping point is where the red and blue lines cross in the chart below. The slope of the lines also shows that while tablet and smartphone penetration is still speeding up (the lines are getting steeper), PC penetration growth has hit a wall.
Here are some other surprising numbers from our research:
- By the end of 2013, global smartphone penetration will have exploded from 5% of the global population in 2009, to 22%. That’s an increase of nearly 1.3 billion smartphones in four years.
- On average, there will be two smartphones for every nine people on earth, or 1.4 billion smartphones, by the end of 2013.
- Tablets are showing faster adoption rates than smartphones. It took smartphones nearly four years to reach 6% penetration from when the devices first started to register on a global level. Tablets accomplished this in just two years.
- PCs have only gained 6 percentage points in per-capita penetration the last 6 years.
Of course, per-capita rates of device ownership are a very rough guide to actual ownership patterns in individual markets. For example, in many countries mobile subscriptions have reached over 1oo% of the population, and plenty of individuals are likely to have more than one smartphone. Conversely, many people share tablets, so they consider themselves to be tablet owners even if they are not counted as such in per-capita data.
This analysis was produced by BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s paid research service. For access to over 100 in-depth reports on the mobile industry, and our library of hundreds of charts and datasets, sign up for a free 2 week trial today.