It’s weird how I have hard time with Tomi Ahonen even when we agree on the topic.
Let me show you:

The ultimate number in technology is upon us. Within months, literally, only months now, we will reach the point in time that there are more active mobile phone connections on the planet than human beings alive. Not 100% penetration ‘by households’ or ‘by adults’. No. I mean 100% mobile penetration per capita. By humans alive. Counting literally everyone from babies to great grandparents.” [1]

YES!!! Good, Tomi! It’s amazing moment indeed! I am as excited as you are. Of course we all know this includes multiple subscriptions in hands of same individual, so this is not every man, woman and child on the planet having a subscription, but still it’s awesome and…
Wait, you Tomi wanted to add something?

This is totally, comprehensively unprecedented in the human history of technology. No tech ever, no tech, has even come close. Not television sets, not Playstations, not PCs, not Walkmans, not radios, not cars, not motorcycles, not even bicycles; not credit cards, not even bank accountsl; not books in print, not newspaper circulations; not the reach of electricity or landline telephones or even running water; not wristwatches, not toothbrushes, not even pens and pencils.. have been as widely used as mobile is today. And now comes the ultimate milestone. The first time ever, there will be a consumer technology that exceeds the whole human population by its size.” [1]

Great. This was really easy topic, Tomi. You only needed to tell how awesome this is. What’s wrong with you and sticking to the facts?

Now if someone wonders what I’m talking about:

  • World population is about 7 billion. (Tomi uses 7.1Bn for end of 2012)
  • Over 2 years ago (March 2010) there were 6.2 billion bank accounts on use. [2] World population was then about 6.8 billion. [3] Bank accounts may have exceeded world population already before now.
    (Just saying that it’s close, not certain that it would’ve exceeded.)
  • Books. Tomi mentioned books. 130 million titles published. [4] And Bible ALONE counts for 6 BILLION copies throughout the history [5] and has high chance to actually exceed world population in next few decades. One book alone.
    Books in general have definitely exceeded human population long time ago.
  • Oooh! Pencils! Tomi said pens and pencils. World pencil production PER YEAR is 15 to 20 billion. [6]
    Exceeds world population twice each year.

So… “totally, comprehensively unprecedented in the human history“? Really? Are you Tomi serious about this?

Yes, literally, no technology has been as widely spread, used by as many people as mobile.” [1]

Paper and pen? The humble pencil? Yes, very VERY widely used indeed. Except that 800 million adults are illiterate and have no use for a pen or pencil. Add to that about 1 Billion kids too young to go to school yet, and yes, the market for people who have even learned to read and write is only 5.2 Billion.” [1]

But the world will pass 7 Billion mobile phone connections live and in use, by around the time when year 2012 turns into 2013, give or take a few weeks.” [1]

So… You Tomi count users of pencils instead of actual pencils, but then count the mobile subscriptions instead of users of those mobile subscriptions? I’m sure there’s a mistake – it would be stupid!
Wait – you want to rephrase something?

There has NEVER been a technology in use on the planet that has 7 Billion active users” [1]

Really? No technology having more users than there exists people to use it? Really? WOW!

(okay, that was uncalled for. Full version follows)

There has NEVER been a technology in use on the planet that has 7 Billion active users or active paid accounts.” [1]

Well… There won’t be 7 billion active users for mobile subscriptions either. 😀
But 7 billion active accounts, yes. And as said, banking accounts might have reached it already.
Hold it… Tomi, you checked banking accounts too?

banking accounts reach under 2.5 Billion total unique users worldwide. If you have insurance for your home or car, the total unique user base of insurance is well under 2 Billion. But we are shortly reaching the point of 7 Billion active mobile accounts.” [1]

Unbelievable that you actually did banking accounts as unique users but mobile as accounts. Especially counting the chance banking accounts exceeded population of the planet already.
Tell me Tomi: why is it so hard to stick with one way to measure it? Is it because pencils and books exceeded population already? Should we redefine the term for technology to make this work?


Fine: let’s assume pencil and books do not count as technology. Let’s assume bank accounts have not reached world population yet. Let’s go to electric devices. I think I can provide a technology geographically more wide-spread than mobile and already exceeding both mobile subscriptions and population of this planet.

That would be electric lamps.

Light is one of the first things to obtain when it comes possible. 50% of this planet is in the dark at any given moment. Light brings feeling of safety and increases amount of productive hours in a day. In order to use the mobile subscription Tomi so eagerly promotes, people need a device that runs on electricity (from power grid or battery). And if battery, it needs to be charged from the grid or using some other means like power generator, solar panel or a dynamo.

So key thing is electricity – anybody having mobile subscription needs access to electricity. And when you have electricity, you almost without exceptions will use the chance to have electric light too.
(Now don’t get me wrong, we already heard that there are more mobile phones in Uganda than electric lamps [7].) Thing here is: if we count electric lamps into level of flashlights and bicycle lamps, we have to take in LED-lights. And what do you know? Mobile phones (most common way to use mobile subscription) by majority have a light in their display, created by few LEDs under the display. Some have actual flashlight. Some use camera flash LED as a flashlight.
And even with just the display, people use the display light as a source of light every now and then so we really should count them as lights too.

Furthermore: Average western home has easily twenty lamps or more, if you count outdoor lamps, storage room lamps etc. But less than 3 people in the household.
In emerging markets things are naturally different what comes to family size and amount of lamps, but idea is the same – multiple lamps per household with electricity.
And as said, phones double as light source, which means better numbers for lamps.

Then count in street lights, advertisement signs, traffic lights, bicycle lamps, flashlights,… Electric lamp has definitely exceeded human population decades ago. And by all just said, it has to exceed it prior to mobile subscriptions.

So… How did you Tomi say it?

Yes the Mobile Moment is upon us. We will be witnessing technology history being made.” [1]

I get it now! You call it “mobile” moment since it moved from almost a century ago (books) to few decades ago (pencils, electric lamps) to near future (bank accounts, mobile subscriptions).


I’m actually thinking about making a T-shirt out of this:

The first time ever, there will be a consumer technology that exceeds the whole human population by its size. (If we exclude insignificant things like pencils, electric lamps and books.)

Sorry for ranting about this but Tomi’s post was getting so funny I had to. Besides, it started to feel like extra long commercial of Tomi Ahonen Consulting, starting with this:

And a brief comment about why me” [1]

subsequently spending over 7000 words on advertisement of Tomi Ahonen Consulting and his books, compared to a bit over 3000 words on the actual mobile moment. How did Tomi once say it? That he does not sell anything or have advertisements on his blog?