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Charted: The Rise of Mobile Device Subscriptions Worldwide

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Charting Two Decades of Mobile Phone Subscriptions

Charting The Rise of Mobile Device Subscriptions Worldwide

There were approximately 8.6 billion mobile device subscriptions worldwide as of 2021, more than there are people on the planet.

Yet, while mobile phones, tablets, and other devices have become extremely common across the globe, access still varies greatly from country to country.

Using data from Our World in Data, this chart by Pablo Alvarez tracks the rise of mobile phones across the globe, showing the discrepancies in mobile phone subscriptions in select countries.

The Evolution of the Mobile Market

Before diving into the present-day divide, it’s worth quickly explaining how the overall cell phone market and mobile devices in general have evolved over the last three decades.

Below is a summary of the history of the mobile market since its onset in the early 90s.

The 90s and Early 2000s: The Beginning

The first mobile device hit the market in 1983, with Motorola’s launch of the DynaTAC 8000X. This clunky analog phone cost nearly $4,000 and needed to be recharged after 30 minutes of use.

By the early 1990s, innovation in the industry had somewhat taken off, with various manufacturers like Nokia and Sony starting to launch their own devices.

While this gave consumers more product options to choose from, the technology was still fairly new, and mobile adoption was relatively low compared to today’s figures.

2007 and Onwards: Apple Opens Up the Market

Though many companies introduced mobile phones, and a few launched early tablet devices like the PalmPilot and the Nokia 770, it was Apple’s foray into the market that shook things up.

The iPhone’s launch in 2007, and the iPad’s debut in 2010, ushered in a new era of mobile devices. Their touch-screen design was revolutionary at the time, and they were also exceptionally more functional through the App Store, since users could download hundreds of different mobile applications and games quickly.

This is when the rise of mobile really started to pick up across the globe. In 2007, there were nearly 3.4 billion mobile device subscriptions worldwide or about 50% of the global population.

Present Day: Mobile Devices Are Common, But Not Ubiquitous

In many parts of the world, millions of people rely on their mobile phones and tablets every day for work, social life, or simple day-to-day activities like figuring out directions or deciding what to make for dinner.

Yet, while overall mobile subscriptions have surpassed the global population, adoption hasn’t been equally spread across the globe.

Here’s a look at mobile device subscriptions per 100 people, in 12 different regions:

CountryMobile Subscriptions Per 100 People (2020)
🇲🇴 Macau430
🇭🇰 Hong Kong291
🇿🇦 South Africa161
🇨🇱 Chile131
🇵🇱 Poland130
🇩🇪 Germany128
🇨🇳 China119
🇺🇸 United States106
🇨🇦 Canada85
🇮🇳 India83
🇨🇺 Cuba58
🇸🇸 South Sudan12
Global Average106

As the table above shows, some regions have a lot more mobile phone subscriptions than people, while other places are lagging behind.

In regions with a surplus, people likely have multiple devices and SIM-enabled gadgets like smartwatches and connected cars. This explains how in Macao, mobile subscriptions are more than 300% higher than the country’s population.

On the flip side, in South Sudan, there are just 12 mobile phone subscriptions for every 100 people in the country. Poverty is widespread across the country, which helps explain its relatively low number of mobile subscriptions. According to the World Bank, only 7.2% of the South Sudan’s population has access to electricity.

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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

Ranked: Semiconductor Companies by Industry Revenue Share

Nvidia is coming for Intel’s crown. Samsung is losing ground. AI is transforming the space. We break down revenue for semiconductor companies.

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A cropped pie chart showing the biggest semiconductor companies by the percentage share of the industry’s revenues in 2023.

Semiconductor Companies by Industry Revenue Share

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

Did you know that some computer chips are now retailing for the price of a new BMW?

As computers invade nearly every sphere of life, so too have the chips that power them, raising the revenues of the businesses dedicated to designing them.

But how did various chipmakers measure against each other last year?

We rank the biggest semiconductor companies by their percentage share of the industry’s revenues in 2023, using data from Omdia research.

Which Chip Company Made the Most Money in 2023?

Market leader and industry-defining veteran Intel still holds the crown for the most revenue in the sector, crossing $50 billion in 2023, or 10% of the broader industry’s topline.

All is not well at Intel, however, with the company’s stock price down over 20% year-to-date after it revealed billion-dollar losses in its foundry business.

RankCompany2023 Revenue% of Industry Revenue
1Intel$51B9.4%
2NVIDIA$49B9.0%
3Samsung
Electronics
$44B8.1%
4Qualcomm$31B5.7%
5Broadcom$28B5.2%
6SK Hynix$24B4.4%
7AMD$22B4.1%
8Apple$19B3.4%
9Infineon Tech$17B3.2%
10STMicroelectronics$17B3.2%
11Texas Instruments$17B3.1%
12Micron Technology$16B2.9%
13MediaTek$14B2.6%
14NXP$13B2.4%
15Analog Devices$12B2.2%
16Renesas Electronics
Corporation
$11B1.9%
17Sony Semiconductor
Solutions Corporation
$10B1.9%
18Microchip Technology$8B1.5%
19Onsemi$8B1.4%
20KIOXIA Corporation$7B1.3%
N/AOthers$126B23.2%
N/ATotal $545B100%

Note: Figures are rounded. Totals and percentages may not sum to 100.


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Meanwhile, Nvidia is very close to overtaking Intel, after declaring $49 billion of topline revenue for 2023. This is more than double its 2022 revenue ($21 billion), increasing its share of industry revenues to 9%.

Nvidia’s meteoric rise has gotten a huge thumbs-up from investors. It became a trillion dollar stock last year, and broke the single-day gain record for market capitalization this year.

Other chipmakers haven’t been as successful. Out of the top 20 semiconductor companies by revenue, 12 did not match their 2022 revenues, including big names like Intel, Samsung, and AMD.

The Many Different Types of Chipmakers

All of these companies may belong to the same industry, but they don’t focus on the same niche.

According to Investopedia, there are four major types of chips, depending on their functionality: microprocessors, memory chips, standard chips, and complex systems on a chip.

Nvidia’s core business was once GPUs for computers (graphics processing units), but in recent years this has drastically shifted towards microprocessors for analytics and AI.

These specialized chips seem to be where the majority of growth is occurring within the sector. For example, companies that are largely in the memory segment—Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron Technology—saw peak revenues in the mid-2010s.


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