The smartphone industry may still be in its infancy, but the mobile phone market as a whole is not. Some of us have been using mobile phones since the early ’80s, and the 30th anniversary of the first commercially available cell phone is actually coming up next year. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that today, the International Telecommunications Union is reporting that six billion people around the world are using mobile phones.

That’s a ton of people, considering that predictions for total world population are currently sitting a little north of seven billion. Of those six billion mobile phone users, 1.1 billion were able to connect to the Internet using their phone at the end of 2011. That’s a sizable amount of mobile phone users accessing the Internet, but it shows just how far the smartphone industry has to go.

Google‘s Eric Schmidt is up to the challenge though. He recently said that in one year from now, he expects Android activations worldwide to be at 1 billion. Android has been growing as a mobile platform at a ridiculous pace in the past few years, so 1 billion activations by this time next year is perfectly feasible. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that we told you the Google Play Store had hit 25 billion downloads, just a mere two years after passing the 1 billion download milestone.

So, as many of these six billion mobile phone users begin to make the switch to smartphones, it seems that Android will be leading the charge. There’s undoubtedly plenty of room for growth in the smartphone industry, and the fact that six billion people are using mobile phones has to be exciting for the likes of Google and its competition. Stay tuned, because even though smartphones are at the center of attention now, their popularity may have yet to really take off.

  • What percentage of that is smartphone? As a developer I’m curious how big my potential customer base is 🙂

  • Miss_Jogging_Girlie

    Wow! 6 billion people with cell phones. Even those that have absolutely no income at all. Even those without a cell tower in their area. Even those without clean drinking water… or even food.

    They have cell phones instead?

  • Bjoern Draegert

    1 billion activated Android phones doesn’t necessarily mean that 1 billion of them are in use. I for example have a Nexus one here which I don’t use at all. And I know of several other people having two, three or even more activated but totally unused Android devices…

  • It’s pretty crazy how fast the mobile space really took off. Kudos to those in the industry that has made it very exciting for all of us the last few years.

  • I love this ridiculous number being bandied about as if they were all 6 billion individuals… and then I look down at the 4 activated Android devices that I have and realize… oh, they are just conflating activations with actual people.

  • lmpk

    It’s obviously bollocks. Most people in the world earn less than $2 a day, which gives <$60 a month. They starve but have money left to pay for mobile phone subscription? Not to mention appropriate infrastructure which must exist in those places? Sorry Eric, but you could have thought for a little bit longer before reprinting this number, which is clearly taken out of thin air.