Global mobile connections will grow 8% annually and reach 7.4 billion in 2015. Continued growth and multiple SIM ownership in emerging markets are the primary drivers.
Asia Pacific will remain the growth engine and is expected to account for 3.8 billion connections by 2015, 52% of the global total. However, it is the Big Three - China, India and Indonesia - that continue to drive growth for the entire industry. They are set to have 2.8 billion connections in 2015, representing 72% of regional connections and 38% of the global total.
However, even the big three are not immune from "emerging maturity" as urban markets become increasingly saturated and competition intensifies. Therefore, growth rates are expected to decline rapidly toward the end of the forecast period. By 2013, none of the big three will enjoy double-digit connections growth.
South and Central America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East are maturing even more rapidly. Their annual growth for connections from 2009 to 2015 is 4.5%, 3.2% and 6.5% respectively. The regions are certainly not as mature as the world's most developed markets, but neither are they hotbeds for phenomenal growth.
In contrast, Africa is the last truly emerging region. Its 15% CAGR from 2009 to 2015 is the highest for all regions, and by 2015 the region will have 1.1 billion connections. Despite this high growth, penetration will only have reached 94% (the lowest of any region), with real penetration far lower due to multiple SIM ownership.
In developed markets connections growth will be far slower as only multiple device ownership will stimulate demand. To this end, device vendors are betting on economic recovery to stimulate sales of higher-margin, data-centric devices.