India posts largest growth in mobile phone sales

India posts largest growth in mobile phone sales

Bangalore: India posted the world’s largest sales of mobile phones to end users in the third quarter, helping the Asian market expand 26%, according to a global survey.

Sales of mobile phones using both CDMA and GSM technologies reached 24.5 million units during the three months ended 30 September 2007 in the world’s second-most populous nation, said the survey by market research firm Gartner.

That came out of overall mobile-phone sales of 101.8 million units in the Asia-Pacific region.

“India’s performance was driven by CDMA phones and fierce competition among operators of GSM networks, which stimulated sales of replacement phones and allowed operators to penetrate rural areas quickly," said Gartner analyst Ann Liang in a statement.

The number of Indian mobile phone subscribers passed the 200 million mark in August after another eight million customers were added that month, according to figures from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

India’s mobile revolution is mainly confined to the cities, but the real prize for phone companies is the vast rural market, where nearly 70% of India’s 1.1 billion population live, analysts say.

The government is aiming for more than half a billion mobile phone subscribers by 2010.

By the end of 2008, three-quarters of India’s population will be covered by a mobile network. Many of these new areas are poor, rural districts with scarce health and education facilities and high illiteracy rates.

Indian sales of mobile phones made up about 8.5% of the worldwide figure of 289 million units, a 15% increase from a year earlier, according to Gartner.

The top five vendors — Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG — increased their market shares and made up 81.6% of the global sales, it said.

“Even though relatively few models were introduced this quarter, overall sales exceeded expectations," Carolina Milanesi, director for mobile devices research at Gartner, said in the statement.

“Mobile phone sales were mainly driven by strong performance in Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa."