The meteoric rise of cellphones in one chart

And to think they were once a novelty.
And to think they were once a novelty.
Image: Reuters/Stringer
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According to a new report released by the United Nations, the number of mobile-cellular subscriptions will reach a projected 6.8 billion by the end of 2013. That means that in only 6 months, there will be nearly as many mobile phone subscriptions as there are people in the world (at present the global population is just over 7 billion).

Image for article titled The meteoric rise of cellphones in one chart
Image: United Nations

Ninety-one countries already had more cell phones than people in 2011. Latin America already has more than one cell phone per person; Macao and Hong Kong already have more than two cell phones per person. The growth in some emerging economies is eye-popping. In Kuwait, for example, mobile cellular subscriptions have more than quadrupled since 2008. That boosted the ratio of cell phones to people in the country from under 60 per 100 people, to over 200 per 100 people.

The rate of cell phone growth won’t continue to outpace population growth indefinitely. In fact, it has already started to taper. Fast-growing developing countries already account for over 77% of the world’s cell phone subscriptions. Subscription growth rates have slowed to the lowest levels ever—roughly 6% in developing countries, and 4% in developed ones.