The Process behind Mobile Market Numbers

Scott Francis
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Benedict Evans kindly shares his methods for putting the numbers together for his mobile musings.

I post numbers like these for time to time, because I find them interesting and other people sometimes find them useful. Every time I do people ask me for the source, and my answer is generally ‘my model’.

This is an accurate reply, in that I’ve worked out almost all of the numbers myself from first principles in a large Excel file. But it’s also not very informative, so I thought it might be useful to lay out exactly how I or anyone else would go about getting to them. As you will see, the complete answer to ‘what is the source’ does not really fit on Twitter.

Very few people who analyze mobile markets publish their methodologies.  Benedict Evans and Horace Dediu are the two that come to mind (to me). This post not only explains how he does it today, but how he used to do it in the past when it was easier.

  • Mobile operators reported their connections (both contract customers and prepay) every quarter

  • Most of the handset market was taken by companies who reported their unit sales every quarter, and Nokia (which had close to 40% of the market by volume and so was in a position to know) also produced an estimate of the total market size.

At the end, his hard work produces some pretty awesome charts:

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