Well, we’re not quite at four billion mobile users yet, but that’s a number that we’ll likely close in on in the next decade or so. For now, the number four billion is important because that’s the number of connections on mobile phone networks, and industry association GSMA said that it could reach six billion by 2013.
And the number for mobile broadband connections is also on the rise, with some 100 million connections being made. And given that for many users in remote parts of the world, including rural China and Africa the mobile Web is only likely to grow.
On the flip side of the news this week is the warning that the cellular phone industry could be facing bumping times ahead, at least in the United States. According to research firm In-Stat mobile phones have reached a saturation point, and with declining consumer confidence and with it spending, phone sales could start to shrink. In-Stat has gone so far as to predict that the mobile phone market in North America has reached its apex.
That’s hard to believe when there is always a new phone around the corner, and this reporter isn’t going to agree with the opinions of some analysts that there aren’t any new features. In fact, there are plenty of applications out there that are even allowing some consumers to do more with what they already have. And while it is hard to believe there was once a time when the patent office assumed everything that could be invented had been… and that was before TV, the Internet or teleportation technology – that last one is still something to look forward to of course.
But with 1.2 billion mobile phones shipped last year, according to In-Stat, sales will likely slow down this year. And with every dark cloud, there is a silver lining, and for consumers it could be better prices.
One company that could facing tough times is Finnish-based Nokia, which announced this week that it was cutting production at its key Salo plant, as the manufacturer has seen demand for handset fall off. What is surprising is that the company is looking to temporarily lay off the entire work force at the plant, which currently consists of about 2,500 people. This had been the last major handset factory in Western Europe; and is now facing the same long-time closure of the Nokia factor in Bochum, Germany, which has been shuttered last year.
And to add to that silver lining, analysts are actually predicting the smartphone market to grow by some 10 to 20 percent in 2009. So while the mobile market as a whole maybe slowing down, consumers are trying to be smarter with their phone purchases.
Rumors and Releases: The Blackberry Curve 8900
This week has seen the arrival of the highly anticipated BlackBerry Curve 8900 from T-Mobile. Available now for $199.99 with a two-year contract and data plan (mail-in rebate also required). Key features include:
- Large, vivid screen and the highest resolution available on a full-QWERTY BlackBerry
- Built-in GPS and location-based services, including BlackBerry Maps
- Wi-Fi for data and voice; supports T-Mobile Unlimited HotSpot Calling service
- 3.2-megapixel camera with auto focus, digital zoom and flash, as well as video camera