Animation: How the Mobile Phone Market Has Evolved Over 30 Years – Visual Capitalist

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The mobile phone landscape looks drastically different today than it did three decades ago.
In 1993, Motorola accounted for more than half of the mobile phone market. But by 2021, its market share had shrunk to just 2.2%. How did this happen, and how has the mobile industry changed over the last 30 years?
This video by James Eagle chronicles the evolution of the mobile phone market, showing the rise and fall of various mobile phone manufacturers. The data spans from December 1992 to December 2021.
Motorola is known for being a pioneer in the mobile phone industry.
In 1983, the American company launched one of the world’s first commercially available mobile phones—the DynaTAC 8000X. The revolutionary analog phone cost nearly $4,000 and offered users up to 30 minutes of talk time before needing to be recharged.
Motorola went on to launch a few more devices over the next few years, like the MicroTAC 9800X in 1989 and the International 3200 in 1992, and quickly became a dominant player in the nascent industry. In the early days of the market, the company’s only serious competitor was Finnish multinational Nokia, which had acquired the early mobile network pioneer Mobira.
But by the mid-1990s, other competitors like Sony and Siemens started to gain some solid footing, which chipped away at Motorola’s dominance. In September 1995, the company’s market share was down to 32.1%.
By January 1999, Nokia surpassed Motorola as the leading mobile phone manufacturer, accounting for 21.4% of global market share. That put it just slightly ahead of Motorola’s 20.8%.
One of the reasons for Nokia’s surging popularity was the major headway the company was making in the digital phone space. In 1999, the company released the Nokia 7110, the first mobile phone to have a web browser.
But it wasn’t just Nokia’s innovations that were hampering Motorola. In 1999, Motorola fell on hard times after one of its spin-off projects called Iridium SSC filed for bankruptcy. This put a massive financial strain on the company, and it eventually laid off a large chunk of its workforce after the project failed.
From then on, Motorola’s market share hovered between 14% and 20%, until Apple’s iPhone entered the scene in 2007 and turned the mobile phone industry on its head.
Things really started to change with the launch of the iPhone in 2007.
In a keynote presentation at the San Francisco Macworld Expo in 2007, Steve Jobs presented the iPhone as three products wrapped into one device: a touchscreen iPod, a revolutionary cell phone, and an internet communications device.
One year later, Apple launched the App Store, which gave users the ability to download applications and games onto their iPhones. Not only did this greatly enhance the iPhone’s functionality, but it also allowed consumers to customize their mobile devices like never before.
This was the start of a new era of smartphones—one that Motorola failed to keep up with. Less than two years after the iPhone launched, Apple had captured 17.4% of the mobile phone market. In contrast, Motorola’s market share had shrunk down to 4.9%.
By the end of 2021, Apple held about 27.3% of the global mobile market. The iPhone is a key part of the tech giant’s growth, driving more than 50% of the company’s overall revenue.
While a number of factors contributed to Motorola’s downfall, many point to one central hurdle—the company’s failure to pivot.
The iPhone’s emergence was the start of a new, software-driven era. Motorola had mastered the hardware-driven era, but failed to keep up when the tides changed. And the animation above highlights other companies that also failed to adapt or keep up, including BlackBerry (formerly RIM), Palm, Sony, and LG.
But Apple is not alone. The popularity of Google’s Android mobile operating system has helped competitors like South Korea’s Samsung and China’s Huawei and Xiaomi flourish, with each company establishing strong footholds in the global mobile phone market.
In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to pivot is essential if businesses want to remain competitive. Will today’s mobile phone giants like Apple and Samsung remain on top? Or will other companies like Huawei catch up in the next few years?
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist’s Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
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Here are the most innovative countries worldwide and the primary indicators—from patents to R&D spend—driving their breakthroughs.
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Since 2000, global investment in research and development (R&D) has tripled to $2.4 trillion.
R&D spend is also casting a wider global net. In 1960, the U.S. made up nearly 70% of global R&D spending, and by 2020 this had fallen to 30%. From job creation and public health to national security and industrial competitiveness, R&D plays a vital role in a country’s economic growth and innovation, impacting nearly every corner of society—either directly or indirectly.
Along with R&D spend, other key ingredients play an important role in driving progress and innovation. These include technological adoption, scientific research, and venture capital activity, among others.
The above infographic ranks the world’s most innovative economies using data from the UN’s WIPO Global Innovation Index.
Innovation is inherently challenging to quantify, but the Global Innovation Index is a longstanding attempt to do just that.
The framework used for the index was designed to create a more complete analysis, comprising of 81 indicators across seven categories to calculate a country’s score:
As the above table shows, the framework aims to identify indicators that foster an innovative environment and breakthrough technologies.
It’s worth noting that each country’s overall innovation score is a mix of these categories, and countries with similar scores can be strong in different areas.
Switzerland ranks at the top⁠ for the 12th year in a row—above the U.S., South Korea, and Israel.
For many, this may come as a surprise. However, the country’s intellectual property rules are considered world-class, and they are complemented by strong collaboration between universities and industry. In addition, the country attracts top talent thanks to its high quality of living.
At second is the United States, which is a top spender on R&D at over $700 billion per year. Globally, four of the five top R&D spending companies are in America: Amazon ($42.7 billion), Alphabet ($27.6 billion), Microsoft ($19.3 billion), and Apple ($18.8 billion).
Countries across Europe also feature prominently in the top 10, including Sweden (#3), the United Kingdom (#4) and the Netherlands (#5).
South Korea (#6), is known for its high R&D intensity. This is driven by its industrial conglomerates, known as chaebols, that are generally family-owned. Samsung and LG are among its largest companies, known for their high degree of corporate-academic collaboration.
Below, we will take a closer look at the most innovative countries by region.
In North America, the U.S. ranks highest. The country has long been known as a global leader in innovation, with a strong track record of introducing new ideas and technologies that have transformed the way we live and work. The U.S. ranks #1 in a number of indicators, including university-industry R&D collaboration and intangible asset intensity.
Ranking second in the region is Canada (Global rank: #15). Across all countries, it ranks first on measures of joint venture and strategic alliances per billion dollars of GDP (PPP) and number of venture capital (VC) recipients per billion dollars of GDP (PPP). In 2021, VC investment topped $14.7 billion across 752 deals.
Most Innovative Countries in North America
Another interesting example is Honduras (#113). Driving innovation in the country is a new economic zoning experiment called Zones for Economic Development and Employment (ZEDEs).
To date, these zones have attracted about a quarter of a billion dollars in private investment funding and have created thousands of new jobs.
Chile (#50) ranks first across the region, thanks to its promising tech sector. To date, it is home to an estimated 8,000 tech companies. The country also has the highest scale of mobile connectivity in the region. In late 2021, it launched the first 5G network in South America.
Most Innovative Countries South America
Following Chile is Brazil (#54), which saw a record number of IPOs in 2021 that were valued at nearly $7 billion.
As the highest ranked in the region, Israel (#16) is the sole country globally that spends over 5% of GDP on R&D. Overall, it is a global leader in patent applications and information and communication technology (ICT) services exports.
For context, the country’s density of start-ups per capita is 16 times that of Europe.
Most Innovative Countries in Middle East and Central Asia
The small island nation of Cyprus (#27) follows in second, supported by government funding focused on start-ups. Meanwhile, Turkey (#37) in fourth, is home to six unicorns*, fostered by its development of a megatech corridor through Istanbul to Izmir.
*A unicorn is a privately-held startup that has a valuation of over $1 billion.
With 15 of the top 25 economies in the world, Europe is a powerhouse for fostering innovative ecosystems.
The continent is also a leader in social progress, equality, and life satisfaction. The region scores 30 on inequality according to the Gini Index compared to 41 for America.
Most Innovative Countries in Europe
For many, technological output isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Europe, but VC deals surged over 53% in 2021. London, Berlin, and Paris were leading cities for VC activity.
South Korea (#6) ranks highest across East Asia and Oceania, and has established itself as a leader in technology and innovation on the global stage. Through its New Deal initiative, the government is spearheading projects on smart healthcare, AI, and smart industrial complexes. At the same time, it is accelerating the construction of eco-friendly infrastructure and renewable energy.
South Korea’s Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia have made considerable ground in electric vehicle (EV) production, comprising 9% of the U.S. EV market, the second-highest share after Tesla.
Most Innovative Countries in East Asia
China sits just outside the global top 10, and now ranks #1 in multiple indicators, including labor productivity growth and trademarks by origin. China’s economic output per employed worker increased an impressive 4.2% annually from 2011 to 2019, on average.
The highest ranked in Africa is the island nation of Mauritius (#45).
Underscoring its rank is the strength of its institutions and market sophistication. Meanwhile, the government is accelerating investment in tech incubators, research-business collaboration, and tax incentives for R&D investment.
Most Innovative Countries in Africa
South Africa (#61) follows Mauritius on the list, with the city of Cape Town attracting a proposed $300 million Amazon headquarters.
Panasonic opened their headquarters in Cape Town in 2018. Oracle, IBM, Google, and Microsoft also have offices in the country’s expanding tech hub.
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