More consumers with more devices across the globe bring promise to telecom industry

Report finds global surge in mobile consumption and connectivity

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New York, 20 November 2013 — Consumers, including baby boomers, across the globe are using more portable devices than ever before according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (DTTL) third edition of the “Global Mobile Consumer Survey” (GMCS), released today. In fact, by the end of 2013, more than 2 billion smartphones, 300 million tablets, and one billion portable PCs are expected to be in use globally. The survey studied close to 40,000 consumers across twenty countries, including both developed and developing nations, to gain insights into how they are using mobile devices. The survey also sheds light on several opportunities on the horizon for the telecom industry, including the rise of data, the importance of speed, untapped baby boomers, and the power of instant messaging (IM).

“The Global Mobile Consumer Survey not only illustrates the scale and complexity of the global mobile industry from the consumer perspective, but reveals several opportunities for the sector,” said Phil Asmundson, Global Telecommunications Leader, DTTL. “In an industry where divergence continues to be the dominant theme, consumer perspectives become requisite to honing offerings that appeal to them directly.”

More Devices, More Data, More Speed

The GMCS found that consumers in developed markets and urban professionals in developing markets, on average, have up to nine portable devices, a growing proportion of which are being connected to mobile networks. Overall, the GMCS shows that ownership of Internet-connected devices increased in all countries surveyed between 2012 and 2013. Additionally, the study found that with a higher number of portable devices, the average data traffic per device is likely to increase. This proliferation of devices is a net positive for carriers as they have the opportunity to encourage consumers to migrate some of that traffic to mobile by offering larger data bundles. 

There was also a significant desire among GMCS respondents to upgrade their data to LTE (4G). Close to 59 percent of respondents indicate a desire to upgrade to LTE in the next 12 months. That desire seemed more persistent in developing markets with 54 percent of Mexican respondents and 50 percent of Russian respondents likely to subscribe to LTE in the next year versus only 27 percent in the U.S. and 11 percent in Belgium.

The Untapped Baby Boomers

The study highlights baby boomers as an untapped segment that carriers should market to more seriously. With longer life expectancy, older consumers are likely to continue working and grow more interested in technology. Although, adoption has been historically faint, the survey found that older users are catching up to their younger counterparts. In fact, smartphones have penetrated 65 percent of the 55+ age category in Singapore and 73 percent in South Korea. However penetration continues to lag behind in the U.S. (31 percent), Belgium (21 percent), and Japan (15 percent). Seniors do not lag too far behind in tablet penetration as it remains low among all age groups across the board. 

Many mobile carriers have overlooked the importance of older demographics instead of approaching them with the same degree of creativity and dynamism that they apply to the youth market. Education will be a key ingredient in unlocking their potential and motivating Baby Boomers to adopt smart phone and tablet technology.

Media contact:
Carolyn Vadino
Public Relations, DTTL
+1 212 436 6970
+1 917 574 5367

Make Room for More Messaging

The industry encountered a tipping point in early 2013 when instant messaging (IM) platforms usage volumes overtook text messages for the first time. While SMS (Short Message Service) will continue to generate significant revenue, in excess of $130 billion  in 2013, the rising popularity of IM services and other apps has likely contributed to mobile carriers’ success in selling mobile broadband. “In some markets consumers may be motivated to upgrade to smartphones and data tariffs  so as to use IM services”, said Asmundson. For example, the Deloitte GMCS found that IM was ranked as the number one service in: Argentina (69 percent), China (72 percent), Germany (45 percent), Mexico (63 percent), Netherlands (73 percent), Singapore (60 percent), South Korea (59 percent), and Spain (77 percent). 

The GMCS findings highlight the importance of mobile carriers reassessing their analysis of and relationship with IM services and other messaging apps. At the same time, mobile carriers must continue to focus time and resources on text messaging. Text will remain an important service for many particularly for late adopters. 

“The Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey captures the rapidly changing mobile environment for consumers around the globe,” added Asmundson. “The telecommunications sector must take note of these dynamic trends and opportunities in order to continue to see success.” 


To access the full report please visit:

2013 Global Mobile Consumer Survey

About Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Practices

Deloitte member firms’ technology, media & telecommunications practices are comprised of more than 1,400 clients in the U.S., including the vast majority of market category leaders across all sector segments. Deloitte practitioners, many with direct industry experience, deliver a breadth of services including professional audit, consulting, enterprise risk management, financial advisory and tax. The member firms’ practices are also home to the Deloitte Center for the Edge, which conducts original research and develops substantive points of view for new corporate growth. The Silicon Valley-based Center helps senior executives make sense of and profit from emerging opportunities on the edge of business and technology.

About the Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey

Global Mobile Consumer Survey is based on a 20-country online survey of mobile phone users around the world. Fieldwork took place between May to July 2013, with 38,650 responses included in the final study. 

The samples Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, United States are nationally representative. All samples in these countries were 2,000+ except Finland (1,000), Portugal (600), UK (4,020). In Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, the online research approach used results in a high concentration of urban professionals. These are likely to be relatively high earners within their country. All samples in these countries were 2,000+ except Turkey (1,000).  

The questions for this survey were written by Deloitte member firms. The multinational online research program was managed by Ipsos MORI. Questions were asked in a local official language in all countries and country specific examples were provided. Questions pertaining to spend were all asked in local currency. Currency ranges were tailored to local purchasing power where appropriate.

i. SMS revenues to hit $130bn-plus this year, Total Telecom, 29 July 2013. See: 

ii. Instant messaging driving smartphone uptake, New Strait Times, 8 September 2013. See: 

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte has in the region of 200,000 professionals, all committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

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