Mobile markets in Asia continued to experience strong growth during 2009 and into 2010, this despite many countries being close to or over the 100% penetration mark. With total subscriber numbers in the region having grown by around 20% in 2009, there was certainly some moderation of growth taking place, but the underlying strength of the market was still evident. It was anticipated that by end-2010 there would be around 2.6 billion mobile subscribers across Asia.
Of special note has been the remarkable growth in the two massive markets of India and China where monthly net additions are regularly between 10 million and 15 million subscribers. These two countries alone account for over 22% and 35% overall market share in the Asia region respectively; or a combined 57%.
There is still room for mobile growth in Asia. Markets with large populations and relatively low penetration rates, such as India, China, Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia, will continue to grow at a rapid rate. In the more mature markets such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, mobile numbers will rise less than 5%. Growth is being driven by various factors, including government investment to drive the economy; infrastructure building after years of neglect or fixing the after effects in war torn countries, and also major foreign investment.
In the developing economies quick and easy mobile uptake is the preferred, and often only, option for subscribers, exacerbated by low fixed-line deployments. These countries also offer investors the promise of continued growth of the mobile infrastructure and subscriber numbers. While subscriber growth and market share is important in the developing economies, there comes a point where the venture must result in profit.
Operators still face the huge challenge of trying to prevent ARPU slide as mobile services spread to poorer parts of the country and the population. To some extent, a large customer base will help to offset low spend but it is also anticipated that new non-voice services will help to drive revenue. Operators are developing mobile services such as mobile banking, remittence payments, and mobile health services that take advantage of a lack of access by the poor to social infrastructure such as banks and hospitals.
Asia – mobile subscribers by country – 2009 – 2010
|Country||2009 (million)||2010 (e)(million)|
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