Mobile-phone industry to boom, despite downturn

Portio Research says the mobile industry will grow, despite the global financial crisis, due to increasing uptake of mobile-phones in emerging markets

The mobile-phone industry is expected to boom, despite the global financial crisis, thanks to growth in emerging markets, according to Portio Research.

In a report on Monday, the analyst company predicted the percentage of the world's population that are mobile-phone users will increase from 50 percent now to 80 percent in 2013. This translates to a "staggering 5.8 billion people", said Portio.

"The mobile industry continues to confound expectations with spectacular accelerating growth," stated the report, attributing the growth mainly to China and India's markets.

China topped Portio's list of top growth markets, followed by India. With the two countries expected to jointly contribute some one billion additional mobile subscribers between 2007 and 2013, Brazil is a "distant third", with 132 million additional subscribers expected, the research firm said.

Portio's report echoed similar findings in a recent report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The industry body predicted global mobile subscribers will reach four billion by the end of this year, fuelled by the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. However, the ITU noted that this figure does not factor in double counting, where one user has multiple subscriptions, and pegged the overall global mobile penetration rate at 61 percent by the end of 2008.

Revenue margins will dip
However, the Portio report projected that the average revenue per user (ARPU) will continue to decline from $23.20 (£12.90) in 2005 to $15.80 by the end of 2013. The predicted margin declines are due to additional subscribers from low-per-capita-income markets.

The report also singled out Nokia as leader in terms of market share, having shipped 437 million handsets last year. The Finnish handset maker's success has been linked to its performance in developing markets, in relation to competitors' sales figures in these regions, according to Portio.

Nokia appears to be continuing its focus on the lucrative emerging markets. It recently launched a global Symbian app competition calling for developers to "think about the needs of [emerging] markets", in the hope of making handsets that are more attractive to users in these markets.