• Directory of Taiwan

Mobile phone users numbers said growing

Mobile phone users numbers said growing

Falling prices and innovative multimedia applications will raise the number of mobile phone users worldwide from two billion in 2005 to three billion in 2009, a senior industry analyst told a Mobile Communications Day forum yesterday.

According to industry tracker Eric Lin, 44 percent of today's handset users are in the Asia-Pacific with China accounting for the biggest chunk of the wireless communications pie.

By 2009, the markets of India, Indonesia and other emerging economies are expected to post the biggest jump in terms of cell phone usage, Lin said at a forum organized by the Market Intelligence Center.

The launch of novel applications and functions will fuel the replacement trend in the more mature economies while price reductions will stimulate handset sales in the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America, he continued.

Citing MIC data, the analyst noted that the mobile phone penetration rate in some of the world's most populous countries remains low.

China, which has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, only has 392.3 million subscribers, or a penetration rate of 30 percent. India, which has a population of over 1.08 billion people, only has a subscriber base of 52 million, or only a five percent penetration rate.

Markets waiting to be tapped include Indonesia, which has a 14 percent penetration rate, Pakistan with seven percent, Brazil with 44 percent, Argentina with 40 percent, and Venezuela with 44 percent. Populous but less affluent nations such as Bangladesh and Nigeria have penetration rates of three percent and 11 percent respectively, the report added.

Handset vendors and mobile operators will likely rake in profits in those new markets and pursue some risky moves in the deployment of 3G services, Lin said. Worldwide, the major players in the 2G universe will remain big, while the 3G arena will be dominated by the four biggest vendors, he continued.

Vendors however need to adjust their manufacturing and R&D strategies to satiate the demand for low-cost handsets and high-end multimedia models at the same time, said the analyst.

In Taiwan, market demand in the fourth quarter of 2005 is expected to be driven by new services and multimedia offerings, particularly in the fast-growing MP3 player-equipped handsets, MIC said in a recent report.

Vendors will be rolling out handset models with MP3 functions to stimulate replacement demand, and propel 3G services, the research house said.

Around 1.7 million units will be sold in Taiwan in the fourth quarter of 2005, up three percent year-on-year. Overall sales value however will only reach NT$10.9 billion due to falling prices, MIC added.

Total sales of the Taiwanese mobile phone market will grow two percent this year to roughly 6.7 million units with a sales value of about NT$43.8 billion, the report said.