Mobile technology started as a far-fetched dream in the early twentieth century. At a time when most households were having their first land line installed, mobile phones were considered futuristic, even utopian, technology. The first primitive form of wireless phone was developed by Germans at the end of World War I. Slightly later mobile phone-type devices were primarily used to allow well-heeled rail passengers to communicate with the outside world. The next jump in mobile technology occurred in the 1940s, when “car phones” came on the market for the very wealthy who also happened to reside in big cities where the limited service could be accessed. The first modern commercial cell phone service became available to the public in the 1970s, although it was another two decades before a majority of people had access to this first generation, or 1G, technology.
Mobile devices are not only popular when it comes to communication, around 80 percent of mobile device owners report using them for online shopping. Newly capitalist Russia leads the way in mobile connectedness, with a surprising average of 170 mobile device subscriptions for every 100 people. Even in areas of the world considered undeveloped, such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, people are still connected by mobile technology. Users in these areas are able to link up thanks to satellite broadband service that reaches even into areas with few other modern amenities.
Mobile technology has grown into a multi-billion dollar a year industry that is still experiencing exponential growth. The total amount mobile customers paid for service increased over 60 percent between 2011 and 2012, from just under $106 billion to over $171 billion. The largest mobile telecommunications company in the world, China Mobile, serves over 700 million customers in Asia and generates annual revenues of over $20 billion. China Mobile dwarfs most other mobile service providers, possibly due to increased market competition in most other areas of the world. Despite all the recent growth and expansion, mobile technology is expected to expand still further in the coming years as the few corners of the world without mobile technology receive access to service and ever newer products come on the market.