SAN JOSE: The mobile industry will be worth $1.5tr in 2012, a total equivalent to over 2% of global GDP, tech consultancy Chetan Sharma has claimed.

The firm's latest Global Mobile Market Update indicates that mobile web services accessed through high-end smartphones are taking share from older services such as SMS, increasing opportunities for advertisers.

Total subscription numbers were predicted to hit 7bn worldwide by early 2013 – higher than the global population – suggesting widespread ownership of multiple handsets.

"The global mobile industry is the most vibrant and fastest growing industry," Chetan Sharma said.

According to the report, 28% of this year's revenues, or $400bn, will be attributable to mobile data services. Around half of this segment will be derived from advanced "non-messaging" functions such as apps and video streaming.

The report also highlighted significant monetisation opportunities for the future, pointing out that fast-growth Asian nations are still under-indexing in terms of revenues.

For example, China and India collectively represent 27% of global subscriptions, but just 12% of global revenues. This gap is likely to be closed as more and more of the emerging world's population transition from feature phones to smartphones.

In all, 32% of global mobile sales are currently for smartphones. This proportion rises to 69% in the US.

For advertising, most industry sectors are experiencing sharp growth rates in terms of mobile media spend. Chetan Sharma cited latest figures from global ad network Millennial Media, showing that its technology clients had increased their mobile adspend by 698% year on year between 2010 and 2011.

Finance was the second fastest-growing sector, with firms raising spend by 314%, while fitness and wellness brands were up 229%.

Chetan Sharma also highlighted the channel's potential for building brand engagement, with users able to buy goods or share information while on the move.

"Mobile is thus helping close the nirvana gap for brands and advertisers who seek to connect advertising to actual transactions," the report added. "Mobile not only influences purchase behavior but also post purchase opinions."

Data sourced from Chetan Sharma; additional content by Warc staff