Smartphone Milestone: Half the World Owns a Smartphone

Apple SharePlay
(Image credit: Apple SharePlay)

BOSTON—It has taken 27 years since the launch of the first smartphone, but new research from Strategy Analytics reports that half the world’s population owned a smartphone in June 2021, when about 4 billion people used one. 

“We estimate the global smartphone user base has risen dramatically from just 30k people in 1994 to 1.00 billion in 2012, and a record 3.95 billion today in June 2021,” explained Yiwen Wu, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. “With an estimated 7.90 billion people in total on the planet in June 2021, it means 50% of the whole world now owns a smartphone. It has taken 27 years to reach this historic milestone.”

Linda Sui, senior director at Strategy Analytics, added that the world’s first modern smartphone, IBM Simon, was launched commercially in the United States in 1994. This was followed by other famous models, such as the Nokia 9110 Communicator in 1998 and Ericsson R380 for Europe in 2000, she explained. “Apple iPhone popularized the smartphone in 2007, while Google Android democratized the smartphone with an affordable software platform from 2008,” she added. 

But the rapid takeup of smartphones is slowing. The company is predicting that 5 billion people will be using smartphones worldwide by 2030. 

Details about the full report, “Half the World Owns a Smartphone,” are available here.

Strategy Analytics

(Image credit: Strategy Analytics)
George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.