“The exploding use of mobile devices promises to be the fastest-growing – and possibly biggest – technological trend ever. Bigger than the personal computer revolution of the 1990s. Bigger than the desktop internet revolution of the early 2000s. Bigger than the invention of the automobile, too.”
That’s what I wrote way back in January 2011.
One in every five people in the world now owns a smartphone. One in 17 now owns a tablet.
Literally nobody owned these devices a decade ago.
So forget “possibly.” This is definitely the biggest technology trend ever. (Maybe we’ll even see Steve Jobs’ face added to Mt. Rushmore someday.)
The good news? We’re still in the early innings of growth. And I can prove it with a single chart.
The investment implications couldn’t be more profound, either…
Welcome to the Post-PC World
Although the official obituary remains to be published, it’s official: Mobile killed the personal computer.
Towards the end of last year, smartphone penetration rates officially eclipsed the PC. Today, 22% of the world owns a smartphone versus a 20% penetration rate for PCs.
Heck, in some emerging economies, people get a mobile phone before they get running water and electricity. It’s that pervasive of a technology.
Not surprisingly, the latest industry reports indicate that the gap between smartphones and PCs is only going to widen from here.
Earlier this month, Gartner revealed that PC shipments dipped 8.6% in the third quarter to 80.3 million units. That marks the sixth consecutive quarterly drop.
Meanwhile, smartphone shipments keep soaring. Even though third-quarter data isn’t available, the second-quarter numbers tell the story just fine. Worldwide smartphone shipments topped 225 million units, an increase of 46.5% year-over-year.
Most telling of all, though, is the trajectory of the penetration rates over time.
It took less than seven years for the smartphone to unseat the PC as the most prevalent consumer electronic device in the world. That’s a tremendous feat. Especially when you realize that the first successfully mass-marketed PC was the Commodore PET, introduced in January 1977.
We shouldn’t be shocked by this development, though. Think about how many technologies now fit in the palm of your hand (or pocket) thanks to the mobile device.
Here’s a picture for those of you who need a little help remembering…
That’s convergence at work!
What used to be standalone functions or standalone devices are all being incorporated into mobile devices. The more that happens, the more indispensable smartphones become.
Or, as Jessica Leber of MIT Technology Review puts it, smartphones are becoming “the Swiss Army Knives of consumer electronics.”
We Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!
Forget smartphones, though. Take a look at tablets, the newest mobile device to take the world by storm.
Remember how pundits emphatically swore that nobody needed a tablet back when Apple (AAPL) debuted its iPad? Boy, do they all look stupid now.
Take a close look at the chart above and you’ll see that the tablet market is growing twice as fast as the smartphone market did. While it took smartphones four years to reach a 6% global penetration rate, tablets did it in only two.
Keep in mind, plenty more “mobile” devices are in the works. Like smartwatches, smart glasses and others we probably don’t even know about yet. Each could spark another wave of growth.
Of course, it’s not just about the devices. Their proliferation spawns countless other growth opportunities that weren’t previously possible. The burgeoning mobile payment space and mobile health monitoring systems serve as prime examples.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll examine some of the most compelling growth opportunities within the bigger trend. Along the way, I promise to share specific opportunities to profit, too.
After all, even the most novice investor understands the benefits of going where there’s growth. Stocks of companies operating in growing markets that keep increasing sales and profits can’t help but rise in price.
Bottom line: There’s no better growth opportunity in the world – check that, in our lifetimes – than the exploding use of mobile devices.
If you don’t overweight your portfolio with the best and fastest-growing mobile companies, you’ll never live it down. Mark my words.
Ahead of the tape,