That breaks down to more than $400 for every man, woman and child on earth. So everyone must be feeling a little wealthier, right?
Well, no. It turns out the mobile revolution is still benefitting some more than others, with a lot of that money going to the giants of the industry, like Apple and Qualcomm, the latter of which commissioned the Boston Consulting Group study released today. Six of the 25 most valuable companies in the world, BCG says, are companies directly making money from mobile technology: Apple, Google, China Mobile, Alibaba, Facebook and Verizon.
But, while a lot of the direct revenue has gone to a handful of key technology companies, the benefits of mobile technology have arguably transformed parts of the developing world even more than they have changed life in richer countries.
Smartphones have given people in developed countries the kinds of services they were used to getting on their PC, as well as Uber, Snapchat and Angry Birds. In emerging markets, though, the phone has brought fundamental services like banking and health care to people who previously did not have access to such things.
Along the way, mobile technology has been creating lots and lots of jobs, including 11 million directly and countless more indirectly in the six countries studied by BCG — the United States, Germany, China, South Korea, Brazil and India.
The path to job and wealth creation has been different in each country. In China, for example, BCG cites the role of Alipay, which makes it possible for consumers to pay for almost anything wherever they are. Again, that’s not a huge deal in the U.S. where much of the population has credit or debit cards, but it has been a huge enabler in China. Alipay is believed to have processed more than $500 billion in payments last year, BCG said.
In India, only 5 percent of people have computers, but e-commerce company Flipkart has built a huge e-commerce business by going mobile-first, with more than 10 million people having its app on their phone.
The report is filled with all sorts of other happy talk, including surveys showing how highly customers value their phones and that apps are saving people time and money across the globe.
But it’s not all mobile sunshine and rose-colored tablets. The study also says the mobile divide is real and growing, especially the gap between the biggest corporations and smaller businesses.
“Narrowing the divide could be especially important in countries like South Korea, where [small and midsize businesses] have struggled to compete against large conglomerates in recent years,” BCG said.
Getting more of those “mobile laggard” companies on board could create seven million jobs in the six studied countries, BCG said.