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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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Ranked: The 20 Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

In total, the 20 biggest tech companies are worth over $20 trillion—nearly 18% of the stock market value globally.

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A portion of the top 20 biggest tech companies visualized as bubbles sized by market cap with Apple as the biggest.

Ranked: The 20 Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

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.

The world’s 20 biggest tech companies are worth over $20 trillion in total. To put this in perspective, this is nearly 18% of the stock market value globally.

This graphic shows which companies top the ranks, using data from Companiesmarketcap.com.

A Closer Look at The Top 20

Market capitalization (market cap) measures what a company is worth by taking the current share price and multiplying it by the number of shares outstanding. Here are the biggest tech companies according to their market cap on June 13, 2024.

RankCompanyCountry/RegionMarket Cap
1AppleU.S.$3.3T
2MicrosoftU.S.$3.3T
3NvidiaU.S.$3.2T
4AlphabetU.S.$2.2T
5AmazonU.S.$1.9T
6MetaU.S.$1.3T
7TSMCTaiwan$897B
8BroadcomU.S.$778B
9TeslaU.S.$582B
10TencentChina$453B
11ASMLNetherlands$415B
12OracleU.S.$384B
13SamsungSouth Korea$379B
14NetflixU.S.$281B
15AMDU.S.$258B
16QualcommU.S.$243B
17SAPGermany$225B
18SalesforceU.S.$222B
19PDD Holdings (owns Pinduoduo)China$212B
20AdobeU.S.$206B

Note: PDD Holdings says its headquarters remain in Shanghai, China, and Ireland is used for legal registration for its overseas business.

 

Apple is the largest tech company at the moment, having competed with Microsoft for the top of the leaderboard for many years. The company saw its market cap soar after announcing its generative AI, Apple Intelligence. Analysts believe people will upgrade their devices over the next few years, since the new features are only available on the iPhone 15 Pro or newer.

Microsoft is in second place in the rankings, partly thanks to enthusiasm for its AI software which is already generating revenue. Rising profits also contributed to the company’s value. For the quarter ended March 31, 2024, Microsoft increased its net income by 20% compared to the same quarter last year.

Nvidia follows closely behind with the third-highest market cap, rising more than eight times higher compared to its value at the start of 2023. The company has recently announced higher profits, introduced a higher dividend, and reported that its next-generation GPU chip will start generating revenue later this year.

AI a Driver of the Biggest Tech Companies

It’s clear from the biggest tech companies that involvement in AI can contribute to investor confidence.

Among S&P 500 companies, AI has certainly become a focus topic. In fact, 199 companies cited the term “AI” during their first quarter earnings calls, the highest on record. The companies who mentioned AI the most were Meta (95 times), Nvidia (86 times), and Microsoft (74 times).

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