How we adopted the iPhone 22 times faster than telephone

How we adopted the iPhone 22 times faster than telephone
Image of old television

Photo by Alan Kim

We are living in a time of accelerated change driven by digital advancements.

Right now this wave of change is creating new careers for managers, new niches for businesses, and new opportunities for families and friends to communicate.

For some time I’ve been thinking about how to best capture these opportunities, and perhaps you have too? Recently I discovered some facts that got me inspired to do more online.

You see I wanted to understand how fast the world is changing so I could assess whether I needed to up-skill in any new areas. So to satisfy my curiosity I researched how today’s communications have evolved.

Specifically, I looked at the question “how long has it taken different communications tools to reach 150m users?” I compared technologies that dominated the last century to those of the last 15 years. Here’s what I discovered…

Communications are being adopted 22 times faster

In today’s hyper-connected world, where ‘global citizens’ download tools to manage daily life, technologies traverse the globe at break-neck speeds.

Where the telephone took 89 years to reach 150m users, the iPhone took only 4 years to do the same. That’s a whopping 22 times faster!


And though I used the measure of ‘150m users’, I’m sure you and I agree many of these tools have gone way beyond the 150m threshold. Consider this….

■ Twitter announced it had topped 200m active users
■ Skype has 254 million monthly active users and recently reached 46m users online at the same time
■ Facebook surpassed 1 billion active users in Oct 2012
■ Google+ hit 235m active users in Dec 2012
■ The iPad reached 100m sales in just 2.5 years

And it looks like the pace of dramatic changes we’ve seen in the last ten years will only get faster.

Assessing how we’re positioned today

These trends provide big growth opportunities for us as individuals, as well as the communities and organisations where we work.

In reflecting on this research, I was inspired to participate more actively with online tools. I realised the first step I needed to take was to assess how I used these tools today, so I could setup a plan to succeed with these new possibilities in the future.

Here are the simple questions I used to assess my own position. I also extended these to organisations for use by leaders in any industry.

For leaders and individuals
■ Do I have a strong understanding of these new tools (even if I chose not to use all of these tools, it’s worth having an understanding of them)?
■ How many of these new tools do I use daily (if not weekly)?
■ What practicle actions am I taking to build skills in these new areas?
■ Who do I know that uses these tools extremely well and could coach me on their benefits and how to use them more effectively?

For organisations
■ How does our organisation use these tools as part of its daily practice (for example, if it’s devices such as tablets, the question might be ‘do managers use these devices at work?’)
■ Has our organisation established strategies for its leaders to proactively learn about these new tools? Do our leaders use these tools to position the organisation with customers?
■ Is my organisation setup to respond mainly to existing/traditional mechanisms (ie. phone), and is it equipped to handle new mechanisms (eg. Twitter/Facebook/etc)?
■ Are there any other organisations in our market that are using these tools particularly well? What benefits can we see they’re achieving (eg. more customers, more share of voice, great press, etc)?
■ Are our organisation’s investments setup to explore and grow knowledge in these new areas?

What are some of your personal action plans to capture opportunities in the communication revolution? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I'm a digital strategist and channel manager with 15 years experience in digital, across marketing, e-commerce, online sales, digital and mobile app strategy. Companies I've worked for include Coles, ANZ and GlaxoSmithKline. I'm also a graduate and previous sessional lecturer of Strategic Foresight at Swinburne University.
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