China Mobile is the world's number one choice for mobile use, with Vodafone in second, and India's Bharti Airtel a close third, according to the latest half-yearly global mobile subscription rankings report by research firm Ovum.
With 100 percent of its clientele within Asia, China Mobile had 633 million devices subscribed by the end of Q1 2015, whilst worldwide conglomerate Vodafone had 408 million, and Bharti Airtel had 314 million across 20 countries in APAC, Africa, and Europe.
The report shows that Bharti Airtel overtook another Chinese telco, China Unicom in terms of proportionate subscriptions, with the Indian telco jumping up to third place, from a previous sixth, as a result of expanding into the African and European markets.
Ovum attributes the success of Bharti Airtel to the purchase of Zain Africa subsidiaries in early 2010, giving the telco a footprint in 15 new markets; acquiring Warid Congo in November 2013, Warid Uganda in April 2013, and recently signing a definitive agreement in September 2014 to acquire Essar Telecommunications in Kenya.
Also helping Bharti Airtel was China Unicom's recent customer slump, with the Chinese telco recently reporting the loss of 10 million mobile customers over a five month period. Veterans China Mobile signed 861,000 new users, whilst newcomer China Telecom added 760,000.
Although taking the honours as the number one choice for subscriptions in Ovum's report, China Mobile recorded its biggest yearly profit drop since 1999, with its revenue plunging 1.5 percent from the previous year. The slump was attributed to the company's enormous expenditures on network development.
According to Ovum, Vodafone has maintained its second position for the fifth year in a row with its main investments in Africa and Europe.
Vodafone still third in Australia
Despite ranking as the number two choice for mobile subscriptions world-wide, locally, Vodafone remains stuck in third place, according to a report from Kantar Woldpanel.
In Australia, Telstra's market share remains unchanged from the same time last year, representing 40.2 percent of the country's mobile phones.
Optus moved up 0.5 percent overall, while Vodafone dropped 1 percent to 15.7 percent. Collectively, 14.7 percent of the market is spread between Virgin, Amaysim, Aldi, and TPG, which each company's share remaining relatively stable and no change in position occurring since last year.
According to the report, Vodafone's efforts in improving network performance were reflected in a lower level of customer churn over the past 12 months.
"New Vodafone customers have been obtained via MVNOs such as Lebara and Aldi, with these customers typically switching from prepaid to post-paid," the report said.
Vodafone's network recovery and consumer base growth in Australia has yet to deliver a change of overall financial results, announcing a net loss of AU$183.6 million for the first half of 2015.
CFO James Marsh said the company is "pleased with our performance in this seasonally quiet period for the market".
Vodafone Hutchison Australia also reported a total revenue of AU$1.77 billion, a year-on-year increase of 2.9 percent.
Additionally, the Kantar report showed that smartphone use in Australia up to 78.3 percent of the entire mobile, or cellular phone market, an increase of 5.5 percent year-on-year.