Those whiz-bang smartphones your carrier is pushing are in the minority. According to a recent report by iSuppli Corporation, mobile phone subscribership worldwide will grow to four billion by 2010, up from 2.6 billion this year. The report states that the vast majority of this mobile growth will come in the form of low-cost handsets sold in developing nations.
The GSM Association
promoted development of a mobile phone costing less than $30 with a contest. Motorola won, and the company is developing phones for Bangladesh, China, India and Russia. Now the GSM Association is pushing development of phones costing less than $15, which should speed global handset adoption even further.
Although China has its share of low-cost handsets, mobile subscribers in that country are also moving upscale, with the Chinese government backing a switch to high-end 3G phones. According to an April 2005 IDC
study, China will have nearly 100 million 3G subscribers by 2009. This figure is now somewhat aggressive considering China’s 3G rollouts have been delayed until 2007, but the country remains poised to move to higher-end phones now that most urban Chinese markets have been saturated; selling pricier phones and service is a requirement of continued growth in that country’s cities. Although buildout to China’s rural areas will be more expensive than for the densely populated cities, low-cost phones are expected to be the big sellers there as in much of the rest of Asia.
Mobile marketers need not despair for a world of low-end handsets: Both low-end GSMA-fostered models are expected to support text messaging.