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1.8 billion SIM cards shipment forecast

2007-10-29

Smart card vendors will ship 1.8 billion SIM cards to mobile network operators worldwide this year, a 29% increase from 2005, according to a new projection.

The projection takes in shipments from all SIM vendors, including those based in China. The new projection is higher than a prediction made earlier this year for global SIM card shipments by vendor association Eurosmart. Eurosmart projected European, Chinese and other vendors would ship 1.65 billion SIMs in 2006, about 19% higher than 2005's shipments of just under 1.4 billion.

The higher projection of 1.8 billion SIMs accounts for unexpectedly high orders of SIM cards by mobile network operators in developing countries, especially China. The 31 provincial and district branches of China Mobile, the largest network operator worldwide by the number of subscribers, will order about 280 million SIM cards through the first three quarters of 2006 alone. That is more than 60% higher than the China Mobile branches ordered during the same period in 2005.

Most of the SIMs ordered by operators in emerging countries are low-end cards. And prices for all SIM cards, shipped globally, have been dropping sharply—by about 35% worldwide during the first half of 2006 compared with the same period in 2005.

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