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Animation: How the Mobile Phone Market Has Evolved Over 30 Years

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How The Mobile Phone Market Has Evolved Since 1993

The mobile phone landscape looks drastically different today than it did three decades ago.

In 1993, Motorola accounted for more than half of the mobile phone market. But by 2021, its market share had shrunk to just 2.2%. How did this happen, and how has the mobile industry changed over the last 30 years?

This video by James Eagle chronicles the evolution of the mobile phone market, showing the rise and fall of various mobile phone manufacturers. The data spans from December 1992 to December 2021.

The Early Days of Mobile Phones

Motorola is known for being a pioneer in the mobile phone industry.

In 1983, the American company launched one of the world’s first commercially available mobile phones—the DynaTAC 8000X. The revolutionary analog phone cost nearly $4,000 and offered users up to 30 minutes of talk time before needing to be recharged.

Motorola went on to launch a few more devices over the next few years, like the MicroTAC 9800X in 1989 and the International 3200 in 1992, and quickly became a dominant player in the nascent industry. In the early days of the market, the company’s only serious competitor was Finnish multinational Nokia, which had acquired the early mobile network pioneer Mobira.

But by the mid-1990s, other competitors like Sony and Siemens started to gain some solid footing, which chipped away at Motorola’s dominance. In September 1995, the company’s market share was down to 32.1%.

Mobile Phone Market Share by Company% Share (Sept. 1995)
Motorola32.1%
Nokia22.0%
Sony10.7%
NEC9.2%
Siemens2.1%
Samsung0.4%
Other23.5%

By January 1999, Nokia surpassed Motorola as the leading mobile phone manufacturer, accounting for 21.4% of global market share. That put it just slightly ahead of Motorola’s 20.8%.

One of the reasons for Nokia’s surging popularity was the major headway the company was making in the digital phone space. In 1999, the company released the Nokia 7110, the first mobile phone to have a web browser.

But it wasn’t just Nokia’s innovations that were hampering Motorola. In 1999, Motorola fell on hard times after one of its spin-off projects called Iridium SSC filed for bankruptcy. This put a massive financial strain on the company, and it eventually laid off a large chunk of its workforce after the project failed.

From then on, Motorola’s market share hovered between 14% and 20%, until Apple’s iPhone entered the scene in 2007 and turned the mobile phone industry on its head.

The Emergence of the iPhone

Things really started to change with the launch of the iPhone in 2007.

In a keynote presentation at the San Francisco Macworld Expo in 2007, Steve Jobs presented the iPhone as three products wrapped into one device: a touchscreen iPod, a revolutionary cell phone, and an internet communications device.

One year later, Apple launched the App Store, which gave users the ability to download applications and games onto their iPhones. Not only did this greatly enhance the iPhone’s functionality, but it also allowed consumers to customize their mobile devices like never before.

This was the start of a new era of smartphones—one that Motorola failed to keep up with. Less than two years after the iPhone launched, Apple had captured 17.4% of the mobile phone market. In contrast, Motorola’s market share had shrunk down to 4.9%.

By the end of 2021, Apple held about 27.3% of the global mobile market. The iPhone is a key part of the tech giant’s growth, driving more than 50% of the company’s overall revenue.

A Failure to Pivot

While a number of factors contributed to Motorola’s downfall, many point to one central hurdle—the company’s failure to pivot.

The iPhone’s emergence was the start of a new, software-driven era. Motorola had mastered the hardware-driven era, but failed to keep up when the tides changed. And the animation above highlights other companies that also failed to adapt or keep up, including BlackBerry (formerly RIM), Palm, Sony, and LG.

But Apple is not alone. The popularity of Google’s Android mobile operating system has helped competitors like South Korea’s Samsung and China’s Huawei and Xiaomi flourish, with each company establishing strong footholds in the global mobile phone market.

In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to pivot is essential if businesses want to remain competitive. Will today’s mobile phone giants like Apple and Samsung remain on top? Or will other companies like Huawei catch up in the next few years?

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Technology

Mapped: The World’s Top 50 Science and Technology Hubs

This map explores the world’s top 50 science and technology hubs based on the Global Innovation Index 2023 data.

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This map explores the world’s top 50 science and technology clusters, based on data from the Global Innovation Index 2023.

The World’s Top 50 Science and Technology Hubs

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2023, the world experienced another wave of science and technology (S&T) innovation, from the introduction of the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the U.S. to the stunning growth of ChatGPT and artificial intelligence.

This map explores the world’s top 50 science and technology hubs leading these innovations based on data from the Global Innovation Index 2023. Hubs were ranked by their combined share of international patent applications and scientific publications.

East Asia Dominance in S&T

The world’s five most significant science and technology hubs are in East Asia.

The top-ranked Tokyo-Yokohama cluster made up just over 10% of all patent applications between 2018-2022.

ClusterCountry/EconomyPatent ApplicationsScientific Publications
Tokyo-Yokohama🇯🇵 Japan127,418115,020
Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou🇨🇳/🇭🇰 China/Hong Kong113,482153,180
Seoul🇰🇷 South Korea63,447133,604
Beijing🇨🇳 China38,067279,485
Shanghai-Suzhou🇨🇳 China32,924162,635
San Jose-San Francisco🇺🇸 U.S.47,26958,575
Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto🇯🇵 Japan38,41351,948
Boston-Cambridge🇺🇸 U.S.18,18476,378
San Diego🇺🇸 U.S.23,26120,928
New York City🇺🇸 U.S.13,83874,849
Nanjing🇨🇳 China7,143113,488
Paris🇫🇷 France15,17661,692
Wuhan🇨🇳 China6,25089,756
Hangzhou🇨🇳 China10,75562,924
Nagoya🇯🇵 Japan17,73616,091
Los Angeles,🇺🇸 U.S.11,55644,058
Washington, DC–Baltimore🇺🇸 U.S.5,52576,039
Daejeon🇰🇷 South Korea12,27525,552
Xi'an🇨🇳 China1,78686,937
London🇬🇧 Great Britain5,98159,068
Seattle🇺🇸 U.S.11,47220,322
Munich🇩🇪 Germany10,24824,239
Qingdao🇨🇳 China7,28639,745
Chengdu🇨🇳 China2,04667,334
Cologne🇩🇪 Germany7,46634,286
Amsterdam–Rotterdam🇳🇱 Netherlands4,23052,864
Taipei–Hsinchu🇹🇼 Taiwan3,90752,752
Houston🇺🇸 U.S.8,47524,636
Stuttgart🇩🇪 Germany9,34214,874
Tel Aviv–Jerusalem🇮🇱 Israel7,26824,219
Moscow🇷🇺 Russia2,03655,086
Chicago🇺🇸 U.S.5,76332,343
Singapore🇸🇬/🇲🇾 Singapore/Malaysia4,86136,803
Tehran🇮🇷 Iran24963,113
Philadelphia🇺🇸 U.S.5,39032,309
Tianjin🇨🇳 China1,26753,680
Changsha🇨🇳 China1,14952,768
Stockholm🇸🇪 Sweden6,06919,984
Minneapolis🇺🇸 U.S.6,62515,375
Hefei🇨🇳 China2,54938,974
Eindhoven🇳🇱 Netherlands7,9825,339
Melbourne🇦🇺 Australia2,12640,056
Berlin🇩🇪 Germany3,62430,464
Chongqing🇨🇳 China1,65141,412
Frankfurt am Main🇩🇪 Germany5,41018,590
Sydney🇦🇺 Australia2,53933,695
Raleigh🇺🇸 U.S.3,05730,206
Madrid🇪🇸 Spain1,58038,849
Zürich🇨🇭 Switzerland3,75924,437
Milan🇮🇹 Italy2,57831,077

The first American cluster on the list, the San Francisco Bay Area, is home to major tech companies such as Adobe, eBay, Google, and PayPal.

Along with Cambridge in the United Kingdom, the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most S&T-intensive clusters relative to overall population density.

For the first time, China topped the list of countries with the highest number of clusters among the top 100, having 24 total. The United States follows, with 21 clusters, then Germany with nine.

In addition, nearly every Chinese cluster rose in the rankings compared to last year, with only Beijing falling by one place.

São Paulo (Brazil); Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai (India); Tehran (Islamic Republic of Iran); Istanbul and Ankara (Türkiye); and Moscow (Russian Federation) are the only middle-income economy clusters outside China.

According to the Global Innovation Index, the U.S. leads in research and development (R&D) expenditure, followed by China, Japan, Germany, and the Republic of Korea.

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