10 Charts: Everything You Need to Know About Mobile

By Rebecca J. Rosen and Alexis Madrigal

These ten charts catch you up on the explosive global growth of mobile devices, which are more ubiquitous than any information technology

The most impressive thing about mobile devices is their sheer reach. What was a cottage industry 10 years ago has become a global economic and social force with far-reaching consequences for everyone from CEOs to farmers without access to running water. 

Unlike computers or cars or electricity, mobile devices have made their way into every corner of the globe from agrarian India to the favelas of Rio to the sleek apartments of Helsinki. Mobile devices -- and the many types of services that run on them -- are more widespread than any other digital information technology. Cell phones are cheap and don't require massive infrastructure investments. In certain meaningful ways, the future of the Internet (not just the web) will be shaped by the future of mobile devices. 

Over the next week, we'll be exploring the present and future of mobile devices. We'll look into how they've gotten so small and their impact on the economy. We'll check out the future of interfaces and how networks may evolve. 

But first, we need some context for our exploration of the mobile revolution. We present you with 10 charts that give you the backdrop for these massive changes. You'll see the growth and reach of the industry, both here in the United States and around the world.

In very little time, cell phones have gone from a fantasy to a ubiquitous, indispensable appendage. While we half-jokingly wonder how we lived before them, it's clear that not many of our descendants will ever have to live without them. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/09/10-charts-everything-you-need-to-know-about-mobile/244974/