Global SIM unit shipments have increased by six percent over the last year as the overall value of the SIM market has risen.
According to trade body the SIMalliance, its members’ shipment volumes rose from 4.4 billion in 2011 to 4.6 billion in 2012.
North America has seen the strongest regional growth rate of 32 percent over the last 12 months with 216 million shipments, primarily due to the transition from CDMA to LTE SIM-based networks.Europe also saw strong growth of 11 percent to 375 million shipments in 2012, but this is mainly due to rising demand for micro and nano SIMs linked to the increased use of smart connected devices.
Increasing population penetration is also a key growth factor. Africa saw 20 percent growth with 2012 shipments up to 499 million. Similar to China and India, subscriber acquisition continues to grow as mobile phone handsets remain a primary channel for accessing the internet in rural areas.
NFC-enabled SIM shipments numbered 30 million in 2012, an 87 percent increase from 2011, thanks to Japan and Korea.
The machine-to-machine (M2M) market is also expanding, with SIMalliance members reporting a 42 percent rise in shipments of soldered SIMs designed for M2M applications, known as the MFF2 form factor.
“The vast potential of the nascent M2M sector cannot be overlooked – it will continue to grow steadily as more and more devices become connected. What’s particularly exciting about the M2M market is that it is not constrained by population penetration rates. This means it has no saturation limit,” said SIMalliance chairman Frederic Vasnier.
“A six percent year-on-year growth in global SIMalliance shipments is very positive news for the market. Despite faltering economic conditions worldwide, mature mass volume SIM markets in many developed countries and increased regulation in some regions, demand is rising thanks to new evolutions in the industry and consumer behaviour.”