This is made official now by Informa, the telecoms analyst company provided the official subscriber counts, which is used by the various industry associations, manufacturers etc. Informa's report, Mobile Market Status 2007 gave the final count for the end of the year 2006 of mobile phone subscriptions at 2,704,661,000. As a percentage of total human population, it means there is a mobile phone subscription for 41.4% of the human race.
Informa also gave the final count of new phones sold last year, which was 942,700,000, so we were nearly at a billion mobile phones sold last year, but didn't quite make that mark. We will definitely cross the billion phones sold per year level this year.
Interestingly in this report, Informa also tells us that out of all mobile phone users, 28.8% have two or more subscription (and in most cases this also means two phones). Obviously in countries like Italy, Taiwan, Hong Kong, UK etc where mobile phone penetration is at over 125% per capita, the proportion of phone owners to have two or more phones is near 40%. But even across Europe, now well over a third of the population who have a phone, have in fact at least two subscriptions and mostly also thus two phones.
So if we want to report on the unique users of mobile phones, who have one or more mobile subscriptions, then the count is obviously well below 2.7 billion. Informa tells us that the unique populatoin of mobile phone users was 2.1 billion at the end of 2006. So already 600 million people on the planet have two or more phone subscriptions and this number will certainly grow as more and more people are inclined to have 2 mobile phones or more. One big factor these days leading to having 2 mobile phones is purely fashion. Expect to see more Vanity models from the luxury brands.