Global SIM card shipments are in retreat.
The latest update of ABI Research’s “SIM Cards” Market Data found that 2013 market shipments fell 193 million units to 4.94 billion. That’s a drop of 3.8%.
“A number of separate issues combined to affect the market last year, varying from region to region. While some countries were boosted by the ongoing upgrade and addition of 4G LTE and NFC-capable SIM cards, shipment of such high-end SIMs at a global level were below previous expectations for 2013,” the report summary reads. “However, by far the most significant factor was the overall decline in Asia.”
Asia and the ramping penetration of mobile telephony has been the primary growth engine for SIMs over the past five years. In 2013 there were several factors that combined to reverse this process overall. At the end of 2012 India became the latest country to require presentation of ID and registration of the purchase of pre-paid SIMs.
“2013 might be regarded as a hard reset in some ways, a point where ongoing subscriber growth can no longer be counted on to drive volumes,” says ABI Practice director John Devlin. “While not discussed publicly, many have recognized that this time would come and vendors are refocusing on streamlining their businesses in an effort to either become as cost-efficient as possible in the supply of high volume low-end SIMs or to build up their software platform and service capabilities. It is clear that this is an increasingly dichotomized market and, with the exception of Gemalto, both card and IC vendors have to choose which end they wish to operate in.”