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Mobile Industry Generates $670 Billion in North America

However, a largely saturated market means the days of hockey-stick growth are probably in the past.

mihailomilovanovic / iStock

With $670 billion in total economic impact, the North American cellphone industry fuels nearly 3.5 percent of the region’s overall economic output, according to the latest figures from industry group GSMA.

Some $217 billion of that is generated directly by network operators and related industries, while $130 billion is indirect impact and an additional $324 billion is due to productivity gains that the mobile economy provides, according to the group’s 2015 report.

“What I think gets lost sometimes is all the economic growth and social good this industry is providing,” said Reed Peterson, GSMA’s head of North America operations.

However, with the market nearly saturated with smartphones, economic impact is seen growing rather modestly, rising to $750 billion by 2020.

“It’s not the huge hockey stick you would expect,” Peterson said, adding that “you are really talking about an advanced and mature market.”

Also, he said, the figures are only for the traditional phone business and don’t include the already large and rapidly growing market for Internet-connected devices.

Among other interesting findings, the GSMA says the average North American consumer will use 11 gigabytes of data each month by 2020, compared to an average of 1.9 gigabytes as of last year. Globally, data use is seen going from 600 megabytes per user per month to 2.8 gigabytes by 2020.

Mobile advertising is seen rising from $10.5 billion in 2013 to $28.4 billion this year and more than doubling again by 2020, to $57.4 billion. In that time, mobile will go from 16 percent of digital ad spending in 2013 to 66 percent of such spending by 2018.

Mobile payments, which were used by less than 1 percent of mobile customers in 2009, are seen being used by more than a third of cellphone users by next year.


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