India Blows by China in Mobile Phone Market Growth

Posted by: Brian Bremner on January 30, 2007

At the start of the decade, India was pretty much a telecom backwater. No more. Last year it actually grew at a faster rate than China for the first time in new mobile phone connections—and it is set to expand more than three times as fast as the mainland in 2007, according to a new study by London-based research firm Wireless Intelligence. Last year, the number of mobile connections in India more than doubled to 142.2 million and that figure is expected to expand 48% to roughly 211 million by the end of 2007.

China is still the world’s biggest mobile phone market with an estimated 443 million mobile subscribers, according to Wireless Intelligence. However, the mainland’s market grew by only 18% and that pace will slow more in 2007 to about 14%, albeit these are still robust growth rates compared to saturated developed markets such as Western Europe and Japan. (The U.S. is forecast to grow by 10% in 2007.)

All this explains why global handset makers such as Nokia, Motorola and Samsung are shifting product development efforts and marketing strategies to emerging markets. Motorola for instance last November launched the Motofone in India after spending two years researching life in rural Indian villages to get a better fix on what sort of phones it needed to design. Market leader Nokia, which has invested heavily in emerging markets, late last year slashed the price of its basic monochrome model —the Nokia 1110—from $50 to $43. And it now has three phones in the sub-$50 range. Go here to read about the big market for cheap phones in India and here to see a sampling of what’s hot in India’s handset market.

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Reader Comments

niti bhan

January 31, 2007 03:56 AM

And with this exponential growth in subscriber numbers to telco networks, particularly the rural or the bottom of the pyramid segment, there is still a disconnect with the kinds of services, applications and marketing techniques being used on the mobile platform. When does that rush start? the development of user appropriate applications such as micro finance, or banking or healthcare information.

devgi

February 9, 2007 08:04 PM

In the wireless application area it is still Voice and SMS. Look at Bt and TeleMobile they have tried to field so many diverse appliaction, yet they have failed. Unlike Japan and Korea where diverse application are springing up everyday. The reason could be the Japanese and Korean deploy a broadband hi speed wireless network based on 3G, while I think the real answer is in the culture. In Japan the wait time to get from one place to another is huge and mostly dependent on public transit. People with cell phones have created virtual communities, aywhere anytime chats and swaps. Those same consumers have added new offshoots software that appeal to others like them. This is not a service provider thinking up services but users competent enough to set up new services.

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