TECHNOLOGY

Key Takeaways for CFOs: The 2.8 Billion Phones Disrupting Your Business

Fortune magazine once described former Morgan Stanley analyst and now Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist Mary Meeker as “absolutely first rate when it comes to spotting big-picture trends before they come into focus. She gathers massive amounts of data and assembles it into voluminous reports that, while sometimes rambling and overambitious, are stuffed with a million jumping-off points.”

Her latest opus, a massive PowerPoint presentation comprising 355 slides, has just been released and it has many observers buzzing. Here’s a sampling of what CFOs need to know about Meeker’s insights as they go about doing their strategy setting, planning and forecasting.

CFOs of every stripe should explore how the ubiquity of the smartphone could affect their company’s business model and its financial and operational processes, as well as the way the finance team works

The world now has 2.8 billion smartphones

By the end of 2016, the global smartphone base topped 2.8 billion devices, sporting the logos of Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and other brands. That’s a five-fold increase from the installed base in 2009, when the number of smartphones in use was less than 500 million.

A smartphone for 37% of humanity

Sources: Morgan Stanley, Kleiner Perkins

But life will be more challenging if you’re the CFO of a smartphone maker, a components company or a cog in the extensive global smartphone supply chain. The deceleration in the growth of smartphone installations, which started in 2012, is not abating – the installed base increased only 12% in 2016, compared with 25% in 2015 and more than 60% in 2011.

And global smartphone shipments are growing only some 3% year-on-year, compared with 10% in 2015 and 28% in 2014. Much of that growth is accounted for by Chinese makers Oppo (global market share: 7.4%, up 30% year-on-year), Vivo (5.2%, up 24%), and Huawei (9.8%, up 22%).

Samsung remains market leader with 22.8% global share, no change from a year ago. Apple is second with 14.9% share, growing less than 1%.  

Still, 2.8 billion smartphones – 37% of the world’s 7.5-billion population – is a huge number. And these devices are being used beyond voice and short messaging, meaning that telecom companies are not the only enterprises that can monetize this massive installed base.

CFOs of every stripe should explore how the ubiquity of the smartphone could affect their company’s business model and its financial and operational processes, as well as the way the finance team works. 

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