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Emerging markets boost global SIM card sales

Posted: 29 Apr 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SIM card market? smartphones?

Global SIM card shipments grew 28 percent, with the total market available reaching 2.7 billion in 2007, up from 1.9 billion in the prior year. This is according to the perimeter note of SIMalliance, a global association of SIM card manufacturers.

The double-digit growth has, in part, been driven by the evolving role of the SIM card within its extensive ecosystem, made up of network operators, handset makers, technology vendors and providers of services, content and applications. Since the arrival of mobile broadband, new technologies such as smartphones, have outsold laptops by as many as two million in 2007, according to Symbian. In turn, this has brought new players to the mobile space, creating a pivotal new role for the SIM in addition to its existing role of securing identity across networks, said SIMalliance.

More sophisticated services are now demanded of the SIM, integrating tailor-made services, content and applications to suit the boundaries of wireless capabilities and interaction with the outside world. The migration towards 3G has continued to accelerate with 3G-enabled cards representing 14 percent of all SIMalliance shipments.

The move towards 3G has been a significant factor for sustained growth within saturated markets, (such as Western Europe, with growth of 18 percent). However the biggest drive came from emerging markets where shipments have increased, including India, Greater China, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America. Below are the figures:

???India - from 123 million in 2006 to 194 million in 2007, a growth of 58 percent
???Greater China - from 332 million in 2006 to 427 million in 2007 , a growth of 29 percent
???Middle East and Africa - from 260 million in 2006 to 366 million in 2007, a growth of 41 percent
???Latin America - from 159 million in 2006 to 228 million in 2007, a growth of 43 percent

The prosperous market conditions have also been stimulated by the increase in the average memory size of the SIM by up to 12 percent. In 2007, the average memory size was 53Kbyte compared to 47Kbyte in the previous year, but this has not been limited to areas where the market is already established, said SIMalliance. In Latin America, where shipments grew 43 percent, average memory size is 76Kbytehigher than Western Europe and second only to Japan and Korea.

"These statistics reaffirm the role of the SIM card within the market," says Michel Canitrot, chairman of SIMalliance. "The significant technological advances that we see in the market, such as the impact of smartphones, are all dependent on the SIM's capabilities. We believe that the SIM Industry, in light of the prosperous market environment, can open the SIM to other players within our ecosystem and accelerate the adoption of these advances to the benefit of all operators."

SIMalliance is optimistic about the market. For 2008, the industry alliance forecast that over 3 billion mark for SIM cards will be shipped.

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