When I read analyst reports, and I tend to read a lot of them (even when I’m not trying to get to sleep), I keep seeing that at some point in the near future, mobile phone / connected device penetration will surpass the amount of people on the planet.   That’s a lot of devices.  What’s behind that?

Well, as we all know, mobile phone usage is growing tremendously.  The mobile networks are getting better, and effectively are becoming mobile broadband networks, and these networks are going everywhere in the world.  So it stands to reason that the amount of mobile phones out there will continue to grow.

But grow to surpass the amount of people on the planet?  It’s possible, I guess.  But remember that in many analyst reports, part of the growth is from “connected devices” – that is machine to machine connectivity, like your car having a wireless connection to report in on maintenance records, or your gas meter SMS’ing into the gas company your monthly gas usage.  So that’s some of it, but clearly not all of it.  And since presumably babies won’t be having cell phones given to them at birth, then it means many people will be having 2 or more phones.

So what’s with that?  I’ve read for years that Italy is a country where there is greater than one cell phone per person already, so I figured when I was in Italy for the Speech Workshop in March, I’d ask some questions relative to this.  First of all, according to CMT research, Italy does has a penetration rate over one cell phone per person.  There are about 60 Million people living there, with over 76 Million mobile subscribers. 

One big hint about why people would get more than one cell phone is that somewhere over 85% of the subscribers in Italy are on prepaid plans.  Likely, most of the non-business use is on prepaid plans.  So it’s easier to have more than one phone when you pay for their usage as you use them.  And from my discussions, it seems subscribers use the phone that best suits their particular need – if they’re SMS’ing, or doing data, or making a domestic call, or international call, then they choose the phone that is economically the best for that task.  And the subscribers know which has the best plan for which need.  So why not get two?  Or why not get even three?!  I don’t know for sure, but I take from that behavior is that the payment options vary somewhat wildly.  Makes sense.

Italy also has the highest penetration of smartphone use in Europe at 36%, according to a presentation I saw at the workshop.  So smartphones are on the prepaid plans as well! 

I must have missed this when it happened, but I also found out that Prada and Armani make phones.  I saw them when I was in Italy.  Amazing that I missed this!  And there are others – check out this Top Designer Phones Site.  And here is a picture of a Dolce and Gabbana gold phone.  If you have to ask the price, it’s not for you!

dg phone.jpgVertu also has as concierge service with their phone.  Sure, it kind of makes sense as there needs to be status symbols for everything and as mobile phones become more and more a key part of people’s lives, sure why not.  So use your Vertu or Prada phone to make a statement!

Me, I don’t know.  But I guess I’m contributing to the trend and possibility of more mobile phones/connected devices than the amount of people given I have a Blackberry and an iPad.  So maybe it will happen even faster than some people predict!