Mobile Heading for 6B Connections

HONG KONG -- Mobile Asia Congress 2010 -- The mobile industry, which already boasts more than 5 billion connections globally, is on course to reach 6 billion connections by the first half of 2012, stated Rob Conway, the CEO of the GSM Association (GSMA) , in his opening statistic-laden address here this morning.

Mobile broadband is accounting for an increasing number of those total connections. Conway noted that there are now 365 operators in 137 countries running HSPA networks, with 361 million users signed up for HSPA accounts (more than double the number compared with a year ago). By 2012, added Conway (having rubbed his crystal ball), there will be more than 1 billion mobile broadband connections globally.

By then, of course, Long Term Evolution (LTE) will be part of the mobile broadband mix. The first LTE networks are already live, and there are more than 150 operators globally working on LTE deployment plans.

At the same time, smartphone penetration is growing. By 2013, said Conway, there will be more smartphones in the world than PCs (1.82 billion of the former and 1.78 billion of the latter).

Hand in hand with the boom in smart devices has been the growth in mobile application availability. The GSMA man noted that Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) now has more than 300,000 apps available at its app store, which has already reached the 7 billion download mark. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android operating system, meanwhile, is supported by more than 100,000 applications, and has already achieved more than 2 billion downloads. BlackBerry , meanwhile, has 14,000 apps available for BlackBerry users, while Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s Ovi store has 29,000 apps.

Conway and his team are doing their utmost to further the availability of mobile apps by promoting the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) initiative, which is building its membership base and is about to make its Version 1.0 SDK (software development kit) available to operators and developers to build app storefronts based on a common set of application programming interfaces (APIs).

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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