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Mobile Device Management Challenge: 6 Billion Smartphones by 2020!

Posted by Henry Cheang | January 9, 2015 7:00 AM

An epic volume of mobile subscribers

As we’ve mentioned before, our world’s technology has seen a lot of progress in a short period of time. It’s letting more people throughout the world than ever to adopt ever more powerful devices at low costs. In the case of mobility, the reach of wireless networks is spreading to the point that there are very few regions left that can be considered as remote.

90% of the world will have mobile phones by 2020!

In fact, mobile devices are becoming so widespread that it soon won’t be an exaggeration to say everyone has one. According to Ericsson, 90% of the world’s population is predicted to have a mobile phone by 2020 . This is a major increase that is both amazing and alarming. Why both? We’ll cover each in turn.

The wonders of numbers

As of this moment, it looks like most of the new growth will come from emerging markets. We see that, in Q3 of 2014, over 30 million new smartphone buyers came from just two non-North American areas:Which markets are driving the most mobile growth?  
  • India had 12 million new subscribers;
  • China had 18 million.

More to the point, this trend will do more than continue – it’s expected to get even bigger since both markets have a growing middle class and high amounts of foreign direct investment.

Even moving beyond these two countries, we see something interesting in the type of device bought by people. We should note that smartphone subscriptions only account for just 37% of total global mobile subscriptions, and that there’s room to grow. In fact, that’s what’s been happening. In Q3 of 2014, 65-70% of phones sold were smartphones – a 10% jump from 2013. It’s not hard to see why, either – smartphones are becoming more integral to our daily routines.

Inevitably, all of these factors tend to lead to higher adoption rates in mobility, with the final outcome being a much more connected world within the next five to ten years. Like I’d stated at the outset, 90% of the world will have mobile phones by 2020.

Since the global population is expected to be 8.05 billion by 2020, that means the number of smartphone subscriptions is forecasted to top 6.1 billion in just five short years from today.

What does this mean for data plans?

One of the main uses of smartphones is for watching videos. This accounts for 45-55% of data usage on 4G networks. The demand for this type of functionality is going to force network traffic to grow beyond just the 4G network. By 2020, fully 55% of total mobile traffic will be taken up by video streaming. The world will need a  better, faster smartphone internet: The 5G network.

As of now, there’s no full notion of what 5G will be. The only part that we can be (relatively) certain of is that it will likely be much faster at offering downloads (i.e., about 100 times faster than 4G). And of course, this will also have to mean  much greater network data capacity as well.

So, what does this mean for your firm?

Workers are already bringing in more smartphones and mobile devices than ever to work, with or without their bosses’ permission. We’ve talked about this bring-your-own-device (BYOD) (mega)trend before, and we’re probably going to have to do so again. It’s not going away just yet. Without a proper policy to protect private info, firms have a real and spreading security risk.

It is for this reason that it is vital to set up policies and proactively protect against employees abusing their device usage or becoming a security risk.  If your firm has adopted BYOD, then you need to secure BYOD right away. You have to make certain that you have clear BYOD policies and that you actually communicate them to your workers.

You also have to understand that, if the legal shift in the US becomes a Canadian reality as well, there is nothing that forces staff to adopt reasonable phone plans for their BYOD implements. One of the most advantageous ways to protect yourself is to create a culture of IT cost transparency or have your personnel use corporately owned, personally enabled (COPE) devices. These actions can have a major impact on the future of your enterprise and could help you save bundles on security breaches and abuse of contracts.

Basically, if you haven’t yet thought deeply about BYOD, it’s really time you did it. If you’re not sure where to start, download and read “A Practical Guide to BYOD”. We’ve outlined the issues you need to know and understand in order to manage and secure BYOD (among other usage models). We’d also love to hear from you if have any insights or experiences regarding this whole issue of mobile phone management; please leave your comments below!

In the meantime, feel free to contact us at Cimpl if you have any further questions about BYOD or other mobile device management policies! We would love to help you out!


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Topics: Mobile Devices, Smartphones, Data, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Cost Transparency, Mobile Device Management (MDM), Automation, Policies

Written by Henry Cheang

Henry is a dedicated technical writer, focused on conducting market research, contributing to product design, and writing clear and concise documentation for the company. He is an enthusiastic team member and is passionate about science and technology, who plays a key role in Cimpl’s product messaging. His dedication to writing is reflected in his experience in authoring academic papers, documentation, user guides, and in contributing to Cimpl’s marketing efforts.

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