Thursday, March 4, 2010

Has Mobile Voice Reached Saturation?

ABI Research has a new report out titled Mobile Subscriber ARPU, Voice, Messaging, and Data Traffic Forecasts. The report forecasts global, regional and country-level analysis into end-user level benchmarks quantifying the purchasing and usage habits of mobile cellular customers. It tracks ARPU, usage, and traffic for carriers in more than 27 markets on a quarterly basis.

Here's some interesting data from the report:

  • Mobile end-user ARPUs (average revenue per user) dropped between 6% to 9% globally, year-over-year in 3Q-2009, compared to 3Q-2008.
  • India, the world’s second-largest market in terms of subscribers, saw ARPUs dropping more than 10% YoY in the same period, as new operators and the introduction of per-second billing put heavy downward pressure on voice revenues.
  • In Europe the ARPU contraction was in the range of -5 to -8%, with Austria seeing a contraction of more than 9%.
  • Globally, the growth in Minutes of Use has also peaked, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of only 1.4% between 2009 and 2015. Much of this growth is driven by developing markets in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Even though the ARPU is currently declining, ABI estimates it is likely to flatten out in developed markets in Europe and North America as mobile data revenue increasingly replaces falling voice revenue. ABI analyst Bhavya Khanna is quoted in the report, saying:

Mobile data traffic has exploded in the past two years, and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 40% from 2009-2015. Operators can cash in on this demand by enlarging their mobile broadband coverage, thus increasing their user-base. This has started to happen in developed markets such as the UK and US, where mobile Internet service revenues have grown over 12% and 8% YoY respectively.

It's time to stop calling these devices "phones"!

You can get more information on the ABI Research report here.

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