Cisco Predicts More Mobiles Than People in 2012

Cisco have published their latest Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, which includes traffic projections and growth trends for mobile for 2011 to 2016.

One of the highlights of this report is the prediction that very soon there will be more mobile devices than there are people on the planet.

Cisco says:

By the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2016 there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita. There will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices in 2016, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules-exceeding the world’s population at that time (7.3 billion).

These are huge numbers, but it’s not surprising really – Most people use more than one mobile device in their day to day life, especially since the recent rise in tablets and e-readers.

Other incredible statistics include the fact that, in 2011, global mobile data traffic more than doubled for the fourth year in a row and last year mobile traffic, at 597 petabytes per month, was 8 times the size of the entire internet in 2000, at just 75 petabytes per month.

It’s clearly getting very hard to ignore the opportunity of the mobile internet – If you are not thinking about a mobile marketing strategy, you’d better start now!


2011 also saw the number of tablets triple to 34 million, with each tablet driving around 3.4 times more traffic than an average smartphone. Data usage was also much higher for tablets than smartphones – 517 MB per month compared to 150 MB per month.

Feature Phones

Despite all this, non-smartphone usage increased from 1.9 MB per month in 2012 to 4.3 MB per month in 2011 and feature phones still make up the vast majority of devices at 88%.

So, if you are just designing for desktops and smartphones, think again – tablets and feature phones are important too, and if you ignore them you are ignoring a hige number of potential customers.

What do you think of these statistics? Let us know in the comments.


  1. These are some pretty interesting numbers indeed!! I immediately thought of the problem of IPv4 addresses running out, and like it says in the report only 10% had support for IPv6 so far, so that will be an interesting challenge as well.

    It’s also true what you say about how to recognize this and design for all the major types of mobile devices. The pattern presented by Tim O’Reilly about “software above the level of a single device” is a crucial part for designers/developers to think of now, to be able to compete in the world of technology moving toward web 2.0. Mobile devices have a great importance in our society.

    I’m working on a blog post about this, which I’ll post in the next days, so check out if you’re interested!

    • TMWDB /

      Thanks for commenting Merete. Absolutely – support for IPv6 will be a big challenge – We’ll be sure to take a look at your blog post.

      • Do you have any thoughts on how this transition will go? I guess we are looking into quite a time period to get everyone/every device supporting IPv6. With the trend of web of things, and smart grid, the transition will be crucial!

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