Pakistan to have 40m smartphones by end of 2016

ISLAMABAD: Mobile broadband users’ growth in Pakistan is expected to touch eight per cent mark in coming years as the country would have more than 40 million smartphones by end of this year.

The third-generation (3G) and 4G mobile phone users stand at around 30 million and continue to grow, creating a huge demand for smartphones, which is the top selling category across all major e-commerce platforms.

Publicly available data shows mobile phone imports in terms of value and not in units, making it difficult to figure out category-wise imports. However, market sources say less than 20pc of Pakistan’s monthly mobile phone imports comprises smartphones.

This equation though is likely to change in a couple of years, they added.

Pakistan’s e-commerce market is still in its infancy and represents only five per cent of conventional retail trade. However, the overall size of this fast growing segment has come close to $100 million, up by two-thirds from $60 million as of 2014.

A bulk of the country’s e-commerce transactions originate from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which comprise about 50pc of customers. The remaining customer base is very thinly split between cities and towns nationwide.

With telecom operators rolling out 3G and 4G services in semi-urban and rural areas of the country – which usually don’t have outlets for branded products – the e-commerce market is likely to benefit a great deal.

According to a report by marketing firm GfK, the smartphone industry worldwide will grow by 6.6 per cent this year, backed largely by a thriving Chinese market.

For the future, the markets which will drive the most success are again likely going to be developing ones, namely Emerging Asia at eight per cent, and Central & Eastern Europe with a growth rate of 10pc.

The world’s largest market, China, grew by 15pc this year, the highest growth rate in any region, accounting for a third of all phones sold. However, this streak may be about to end, with operator subsidies set to end next year, which may result in a 3-percent decline in sales.

Other markets such as Middle East and Africa, Central and Eastern Europe (Russia and Ukraine) and Emerging Asia managed decent growth levels too.

In the Western world, the phone sales remained largely the same, though, as they did in Developed Asia (Hong Kong and Japan) while Latin America shrunk by four per cent.

Overall, the total sales value generated by the market will amount to a mammoth $ 421.8 billion, up from $398.1 billion last year (six per cent).

Again, it is China which backed most of that growth with $131.2 billion, followed by North America ($72.7 billion) and Western Europe ($53.6 billion), which is not really a surprise.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in its latest report said Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) auction 2014 was very successful as broadband subscriptions have shown a growth of over 1900pc during June 2014 to July 2016.

Increase in the number of broadband subscribers has also pushed the total data used on the mobile networks: jumping from a mere 1,964 TBs in month of June 2014 to a massive level of 39,821 TBs in July 2016.

Mobile data usage is expected to increase further in future due to surge in usage of data hungry next generation services and applications over mobile networks.

In order to meet the growing data needs in the market, mobile operators are to have strategies for more spectrum acquisition and optimisation of their network.