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What does mobile scale mean?

almost 4 years ago | From BenEvans.com | Author: Benedict Evans

This shouldn't really surprise anyone: the mobile business is much bigger than the computer industry, and there have been more mobile phones than PCs since at least the late 1990s. There are now perhaps 3.5bn to 4bn* mobile phones, replaced every two years, versus 1.7-1.8bn PCs replaced every 5 years.

But there was always a wall between the two industries - neither really saw or paid attention to or sold to the other, or if they did (like Microsoft) they didn’t get anywhere. Smartphones broke down that wall - suddenly tech companies could sell to an industry with $1.2 trillion annual revenue, and suddenly mobile operators are faced with people who think about product cycles in weeks rather than years.

Both sides are slightly shell-shocked, and I often feel that neither has quite internalised the scale of the change. Mobile operators still try to make messaging services, and tech people still get surprised that you can sell more phones in a quarter than the PC industry sells in a year...

       

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