Mobile subscriptions in India fell by 18 million or 1.8 crore during the third quarter of 2012, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report. There were a total of 913 million or 91.3 crore mobile subscriptions in India at the end of September 2012.
The mobile subscription base in North America grew marginally by 2 million to 354 million while that of Central & Eastern Europe grew by 6 million users to 619 million. A million users were added to Western Europe, taking the region’s subscription total to 528 million. 38 million new mobile subscriptions were added to China, driving a net addition of 31 million in the Asia Pacific region. The world’s most populous country also accounted for 35% of all the net additions worldwide. Mobile subscriptions in China grew to 1.1 billion.
India registered a negative net addition as mobile subscriptions in the second most populous country in the world fell by 18 million. The report noted that the fall was due to removal of inactive subscribers by major telecom operators in the country.
A drop in India’s mobile subscriber base was noticed in the second quarter of 2012 as operators began removing inactive subscribers. In June this year, Reliance Communications reportedly took off more than 2 crore inactive subscribers from its network. Multiple sim usage by a single mobile user may possibly be driving the growth in number of unused sim cards in the country.
Commentators have seen the slight decline as a positive sign. "As a general rule members are now focusing on revenue generation per user because ultimately the valuation of a company is based on it. This will also bring a lot more sanity to the market amid competitive pressures" said Rajan Matthew, DG, Cellular Operators Association of India while commenting on how removal of inactive users may be better for the industry.
Ericsson Mobility Report also highlighted that nearly 40% of all worldwide mobile sales in Q3 2012 were smartphones. It was also revealed that the appetite for smartphones is far from saturated as only 15% of current subscribers use smartphones, leaving headroom for potentially exponential growth.
Key Figures from Ericsson Mobility Report
To put mid-term growth of smartphone usage worldwide into perspective, the report predicts that in just 6 years, almost all the handsets used by subscribers in North America and Western Europe will be smartphones. According to Gartner’s technology predictions, a significant portion of these devices will be based on the android platform.
Data traffic on mobile doubled in Q3 2012 as compared to the same time last year. The 16% sequential increase in data traffic is expected to continue growing as users turn to mobile devices including smartphones, mobile PCs and tablets for content consumption.
Watching online videos from mobile devices is expected to be a primary factor in driving a 50% increase in mobile data traffic in the next 6 years. "Many consumers state that their different mobile devices have actually begun replacing their secondary TV screens around the home" said the report.