India handset sales seen at 34 M units in 2005

By agencies   |   Thursday, 21 July 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Mobile phone sales in India, the world's fastest-growing major mobile market, are set to surge 62 percent in 2005 as carriers extend their reach and prices fall due to competition, research firm Gartner said on Thursday.

After 21 million handsets were sold last year, Gartner expects 34 million to be sold this year in Asia's third-largest economy, where mobile call rates are the cheapest in the world.

This compares with China, the world's largest mobile market, which could see 25 percent growth to 85 million units in 2005.

India's annual handset sales are forecast to overtake China in 2009, on likely sales of 139 million units as India, where only 6 percent of the population has a mobile phone compared with more than 25 percent in China, plays catch up.

"A conducive regulatory environment, affordable services and increased geographic penetration of networks will drive mobile penetration in India," Kobita Desai, principal analyst for Asia Pacific at Gartner, said in a statement.

"An important enabler will be the initiative in bringing down handset costs to lower the initial barrier to entry."

More than 15 handset makers are slugging it out in India. Though no formal figures are available, Nokia, the world's top handset maker, has the largest market share.

Although mobile services were launched more than a decade ago, they still remain largely urban in nature - with less than 30 percent of the country falling under the wireless umbrella.

Worldwide, Gartner expects about 1.04 billion handsets will be sold in 2009, making mobile phones the most common consumer electronics device, with 2.6 billion in use by then.

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