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Summary of the mobile strategy

Executive Summary/Trends/Strategies





The Growth in Mobile

The future is increasingly mobile. By the end of 2010, it is estimated that there will be 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide; approximately 77 percent of the world population will have a mobile phone subscription.[1] By the end of 2010, 68 percent of people living in the Global South are expected to have a mobile phone subscription. Obviously, Wikimedia should have a strategy that allows Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to be easily read and edited using mobile technology, especially in the Global South, where mobile technology is the gateway to the Internet. Since fixed broadband costs in this region are highly prohibitive and lead to slow broadband adoption, Wikimedia needs to push mobile strategy in the Global South.

While worldwide overall month-to-month mobile cell phone growth has slowed significantly, with fewer new subscribers every month, we are still witnessing a significant increase in the number of mobile phone subscribers among countries in the Global South. This trend is expected to continue with the majority of mobile phone subscribers being primarily located in the Global South: according to ITU, it is estimated that the share of mobile phone subscribers in the Global South will increase from 53 percent of total global mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2005 to 73 percent at the end of 2010.[2]

The growth in mobile phone subscriptions in the Global South is mainly driven by cell phone subscribers in the Asia and Pacific region. Together, India and China are expected to add 300 million new mobile phone subscriptions this year. On the other hand, mobile phone subscription is reaching saturation in developed countries with 116 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants at the end of 2010.[3]

Looking back, the mobile web has witnessed a faster rate of growth than the World Wide Web (WWW) in the 1990s. According to a Morgan Stanley report on the state of the mobile web, growth of the mobile web far outpaces desktop Internet. For example, 11 quarters after the launch of the iPhone and iPod, approximately 85 million users were accessing the mobile web on these devices compared to just 8 million AOL subscribers 11 quarters after the launch of AOL service.[4]

Wikimedia's current mobile situation

In keeping with global growth in mobile phone subscribers, Wikipedia currently has a mobile gateway (m.wikipedia.org) that allows users to access Wikipedia in different languages with their mobile phones. For example, English Wikipedia can be accessed at en.m.wikipedia.org. Wikipedia also has an iPhone application for easier browsing on the iPhone OS (the iPhone's operating system). Wikimedia Foundation's mobile strategy will have a more comprehensive and nuanced approach to directions in technology, design, user interface and markets.

What is happening

This section provides a bird's eye view of what is happening globally in the mobile space with a special focus on the Global South, including,

  1. Networks and carriers
  2. Mobile Devices and Operating Systems
  3. Mobile Internet User behavior

As 3G networks that allow faster data speeds become more popular around the world and devices becoming more programmable (think of the application (app) ecosystem on smart phones like the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry), mobile networks are poised for innovation.[5] Smart phones have become programmable since the software development kits (SDKs) of smart phones became available to developers to build apps. Since developers must get apps approved by companies like Apple, Google and RIM that own the phone operating systems, mobile operating systems are not open. There is a wider array of downloadable apps available to users than before the launch of the iPhone app store, when only a few applications and services were available through carriers. Currently, smart phone users have the liberty of downloading approved apps to customize their smart phone experiences. 3G networks that provide faster data exchange speeds are becoming more popular both in developed economies and in the developing economies of the Global South, and 4G networks with even faster data speeds are being rolled out in some parts of the world.

Networks and Carriers

Largest mobile phone carriers worldwide mere provision of mobile sets and links is not enoug for te existence of database,; applications, viewable programmes shuold be interesting , culture oriented connected to the related countries like India, Brazil, and Cina whhich are growing countries. Programmes like carnatic music, devotional prayer songs, health ,wevather programs are required to be every hour for students, old citizens, fishermen, vegetable, sundry vendors. televised, audieod

Rank Company Region Subscribers (millions) Y/Y Growth Market cap ($B)
1 China Mobile China 493 19% $192
2 Vodafone Europe 303 23 123
3 Telefonica Moviles/O2 Europe/LatAm 206 9 137
4 China Telecom China 194 -9 38
5 America Movil LatAm 194 13 80
6 Telenor Europe/Asia 172 8 24
7 T-Mobile Europe/USA 150 6 64
8 China Unicom China 145 10 32
9 Orange Europe 129 9 69
10 Bharti Airtel India 111 43 25
11 China Unicom China 108 10 32
12 MTN Group Africa 108 34 28
13 Mobile Telesystems Europe 101 2 20
14 Orascom Africa/Asia 89 12 24
15 Verizon USA 86 6 86
16 AT&T Mobility USA 82 9 155
17 Telekom Indonesia Asia 80 32 19
18 Telecom Italia Mobile Europe/LatAm 72 2 30
19 VimpelCom Russia 61 20 6
20 NTT docomo Japan 55 2 64
21 AT&T Wireline USA 54 -3 155
22 Deutsche Telekom Europe 54 -2 64
23 BSNL India 52 44 ---
24 Turkcell Europe 49 -4 15
25 China Telecom China 47 -- 38

Source: Morgan Stanley, Mobile Internet Report

3G Networks and Beyond

As 3G networks are being deployed around the world, the number of 3G subscribers worldwide has increased from 273 million in 2007 to approximately 668 million in 2009. During a similar timeframe, 3G penetration has increased from 8 percent to 15 percent of global mobile subscribers. Morgan Stanley has forecast that 3G penetration will grow phenomenally, reaching 2,776 million or 43 percent of mobile phone subscribers in 2014.[6]

Both developed countries and the developing countries of the Global South are switching from 2G networks to 3G networks. According to ITU, 143 countries were offering 3G services in 2010, compared to just 95 countries in 2007.[7]

However, the growth in 3G is concentrated in developed countries. In 2009, according to Morgan Stanley's report on the mobile Internet, the US had the largest number of 3G subscribers in the world at 103,110,000, followed by Japan at 94,813,000 and South Korea at 33,849,000. However, Japan has the highest 3G penetration with 87% of mobile phone subscribers having access to 3G networks, followed by South Korea with 71% 3G penetration and Australia as a distant third with 52% penetration. [8]

3G launched in october 2009, after the following study, in China reached 25.2 M users in July 2010[9]. The penetration is estimated to grow to 150 M users for 2011[10].

Global 3G Subscribers by country

Rank Country 3G Subscribers Q2 09 (000) 3G Penetration
1 USA 103,110 37%
2 Japan 94,813 87%
3 South Korea 33,849 71%
4 Italy 26,773 33%
5 UK 21,711 29%
6 Germany 20,408 20%
7 Spain 20,192 38%
8 France 14,337 25%
9 Australia 12,689 52%
10 Indonesia 11,994 9%
11 Poland 11,821 27%
12 Taiwan 6,719 27%
13 Malaysia 6,276 22%
14 Brazil 5,730 4%
15 South Africa 5,413 11%
16 Russia 5,224 3%
17 Portugal 4,973 33%
18 Saudi Arabia 4,498 14%
19 Sweden 4,382 37%
20 Canada 4,309 20%
21 Netherlands 4,133 22%
22 Austria 3,949 37%
23 Romania 3,914 14%
24 Israel 3,629 39%
25 Greece 3,155 17%
26 Egypt 2,904 6%
27 Hong Kong 2,777 28%
28 Singapore 2,739 41%
29 UAE 2,684 26%
30 Philippines 2,617 4%

Source: The Mobile Internet Report, Morgan Stanley, 2009

Many European and North American countries, including Sweden, Norway, Ukraine and the United States, are rolling out 4G services that provide faster connectivity.[11]

In the US, the FCC approved the opening of unlicensed bands of airwaves in September 2010. Analysts are predicting this will make it possible to provide super-charged WiFI networks that could blanket universities, urban neighborhoods and campuses. [12][13]

On the other hand, the biggest barriers to 3G adoption in emerging economies are the high costs of monthly data plans and devices. For example, an unlimited mobile data plan in Egypt is almost 50% of the average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. In Africa, the cost of a 3G phone is about seven percent of the GDP per capita. However, 3G services are expected to grow in Asia, and the Middle East and Africa: Morgan Stanley has forecast an inflection point for 3G adoption in Asia and the Pacific excluding Japan in 2011 and 2012, and 3G usage in Africa and the Middle East is expected to reach an inflection point that will lead to wider adoption in the next 2 years.[14]

As more and more people across the world access the mobile web with their smart phones, wireless networks will be stretched thin to meet an increasing demand for data connectivity. The Nokia Siemens network has forecast that annual mobile traffic will reach 23 exabytes by 2015, which is equivalent to 6.3 billion people downloading a digital book each day.[15] (1 exabyte = 1,073, 741, 824 gigabytes)

Worldwide 3G Forecasts

Region 2007 2008 2009E 2010E 2011E 2012E 2013E 2014E
Western Europe 17 25 39 54 67 77 85 92
Japan 72 84 91 96 98 99 99 100
Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) 4 5 7 13 19 25 31 37
North America 20 29 38 46 54 61 67 74
Eastern Europe 2 5 9 16 26 29 34 40
Middle East and Africa 1 3 7 12 19 25 30 35
South and Central America 1 2 4 7 10 12 15 17

(Percent of mobile phone subscribers who currently have 3G or are forecast to have 3G)

Source: The Mobile Internet Report, Morgan Stanley

Broadband versus mobile

Despite falling prices, fixed broadband continues to be the most expensive Information and Communication Technology (ICT) service in the Global South. According to a report by ITU (a United Nations agency for information technology issues), “broadband remains the single most expensive and the least affordable service in the developing world.” After adjusting for purchasing power parity (PPP), the cost of fixed broadband is $28 in developed countries and $190 in the developing Global South. As the ITU report mentions, looking closely at regional differences in price for fixed broadband reveals a wide gap between Africa and rest of the world. “On average, a high speed Internet connection represents 500 percent of average monthly GNI per capita in Africa, making fixed broadband effectively inaccessible for most people in the region. In the Arab states and Asia and the Pacific regions, the fixed broadband sub-basket represents 71 and 46 percent of income, respectively, compared to around ten percent in both the Americas and CIS. At less than two percent of average monthly income, fixed broadband services are by far the cheapest in Europe.” [16]

The analysis of ITU’s ICT Price Basket, which measures the affordability of fixed and mobile telephony and fixed broadband Internet services, shows that the mobile phone basket became the cheapest of the three sub-baskets. “At 5.7 percent of monthly GNI per capita in 2009, it lies just below the fixed telephone sub-basket (at 5.9) and well below the fixed broadband sub-basket (at 122)." [17]

Devices and Operating System

According to Gartner, 314.7 million mobile phones were sold worldwide to users in the first quarter of 2010, which was an increase of 17 percent compared to the same period in 2009. Smart phones comprised about 17 percent of mobile phones sold worldwide with 54.3 million smart phones being sold in the first quarter of 2010, but smart phones saw faster growth with a 48.7 percent increase in sales from the first quarter of 2009. According to Gartner, this was the fastest year-to-year increase in sales of smart phones since 2006.

Nokia continues to dominate the global mobile phone market with 35 percent of the market share, followed by Samsung (20.6%), LG (8.6%) and RIM (3.4%). [18]

Worldwide mobile phones sold

Company 1st Q10 Units (million) Market Share
Nokia 110,105.6 35
Samsung 64,897.1 20.6
LG 27,190.1 8.6
RIM 10,552.5 3.4
Sony Ericsson 9,865.6 3.1
Motorola 9,574.5 3.0
Apple 8,359.7 2.7
ZTE 5,375.4 1.7
G-Five 4,345 1.4
Huawei 3,970 1.3
Others 60,418.1 19.2
Total 314,653.50 100

Source: Gartner

The smart phone market is continuing to grow as smart phones with powerful computing capabilities become cheaper and more popular by the day. Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry and Google’s Andriod are gaining popularity around the world, but Nokia’s Symbian powered smart phone continues to dominate the smart phone market with 44.3 percent of new smart phones sold to customers in the first quarter of 2010.[19]Nokia recently announced that it would switch to the MeeGo mobile phone platform for its N-series smart phones, while other Nokia phones will continue to run on the Symbian operating system.[20] To ensure that developers do not have to create two version of the same app for the Symbian and MeeGo platforms, Nokia has set up Qt (pronounced cute) as the sole framework for native and web application development for both the Symbian and MeeGo operating systems. According to Nokia, "consolidating around Qt will ensure that applications will be compatible with future versions of both platforms." Nokia developed the MeeGo platform, which is built on the 2 Linux platforms Moblin and Maemo, in collaboration with Intel. Nokia also decided to support HTML5 for both platforms. Some tech analysts have criticized Nokia for not adopting Android or Windows Mobile operating systems, which are platforms that have clout and a large following in the marketplace, and sticking with Symbian despite technical issues. Although MeeGoo is expected to debut in 2011, some analysts have deemed it a failure before it has even launched: "Nokia now appears to be betting everything on MeeGo, which could be more aptly be dubbed NoGo." [21]

Worldwide Smart Phones Sold to Customers

Company 1st Q10 Units (million) Market Share
Symbian 24,069.8 44.3
Research in Motion 10,552.6 19.4
iOS 8359.7 15.4
Android 5214.7 9.6
Microsoft Windows Mobile 3,706.0 6.8
Linux 1,993.9 3.7
Others 404.8 0.7
Total 54301.4 100

Source: Gartner

Source: http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-versions.html

The iPhone provides a similar user experience to almost all users because Apple tightly controls the iPhone's ecosystem. Since Apple manufactures the iPhone, it controls both the hardware and software (which runs on iOS), and has a tight control over its app store; Apple approves every app that is available on the App Store. The Android's market is more fragmented: most Android phones run on different versions of the operating system's software. Since portability across devices and versions of the software remains an issue, it is difficult for developers to create apps for the Android market (see figure).

In addition, phone manufacturers have created customized Android user interfaces for their phones. Tech bloggers point out that HTC started this trend with Sense UI for the HTC Hero and has used the same UI for subsequent models. Similarly, Motorola created a customized UI experience for Motorola phones that run on Android.[22] According to Vision Mobile blog, network operators like AT&T, Verizon, Orange and Vodafone have created multimillion dollar software development centers to develop customized versions of UI.[23]

Developers have complained about the fragmentation of the Android marketplace and argue that it is harder to monetize Android apps. Unlike the iPhone where apps are sold only at the app store, and Apple is the only seller of iPhone apps, Google has an Android store, along with network carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile. Developers have to make their apps available at different stores, unlike the App store which is a one stop shop for all iPhone apps. To make matters worst for developers, the different stores support different UIs (customized by both network providers and phone manufacturers).

Mobile Internet User Behavior

Online social networking on mobile phones has grown exponentially across the globe, and viewing video content on mobile phones is also becoming popular. According to Novarra, a provider of mobile Internet gateway and browser platforms; social networking, search, video and display ads on phones have grown significantly.[24]

Social Networking is Growing on the Mobile Web Mobile content growth, 1st to 3rd quarter, 2009

Content Type Growth (%)
Social networks (page views) 190
Search (queries) 87
Video (views) 74
Display ads (views) 52

Source: Novarra

It is no surprise that social networking websites rank highly among websites accessed on the mobile web. According to Opera’s rankings, at least one social networking website features among the top five mobile websites accessed in the US, Russia, the UK, India and South Africa. In Africa, Facebook is among the top 2 sites in 9 out of 10 countries where Opera is used.


  1. The World in 2010. The Rise of 3G, ITU. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/material/FactsFigures2010.pdf
  2. The World in 2010. The Rise of 3G, ITU. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/material/FactsFigures2010.pdf
  3. The World in 2010. The Rise of 3G, ITU. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/material/FactsFigures2010.pdf
  4. The Mobile Internet Report. 2009. Morgan Stanley. http://www.morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch/pdfs/2SETUP_12142009_RI.pdf
  5. http://www.iftf.org/node/2525
  6. The Mobile Internet Report. 2009. Morgan Stanley. http://www.morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch/pdfs/2SETUP_12142009_RI.pdf
  7. The World in 2010. The Rise of 3G, ITU. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/material/FactsFigures2010.pdf
  8. http://www.morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch/pdfs/2SETUP_12142009_RI.pdf
  9. China's 3G Users Reach 25.2 Million on wsj
  10. 3G users in China to top 150million by 2011
  11. The World in 2010. The Rise of 3G, ITU. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/material/FactsFigures2010.pdf
  12. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/13/technology/13wifi.html?_r=1&ref=technology
  13. http://www.toptechreviews.net/tech-news/use-of-unlicensed-white-space-airwaves-get-fcc-approval/
  14. http://www.morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch/pdfs/2SETUP_12142009_RI.pdf
  15. http://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/news-events/press-room/press-releases/mobile-data-from-smart-devices-to-increase-10000-percent-by-20
  16. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/publications/idi/2010/index.html
  17. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/publications/idi/2010/index.html
  18. http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1372013
  19. http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1372013
  20. http://news.techworld.com/applications/3245323/nokia-backs-qt-framework-for-symbian-and-meego-development/?olo=rss
  21. http://www.infoworld.com/t/mobile-platforms/symbians-dead-and-meego-wont-cure-ailing-nokia-659
  22. http://www.droiddog.com/android-blog/2009/12/android-app-store-fragmentation/
  23. http://www.visionmobile.com/blog/2010/10/the-android-ui-dilemma-unify-or-differentiate/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Visionmobile+%28VisionMobile+Forum%29
  24. http://media2.telecoms.com/downloads/mobile-internet-traffic-trends.pdf