2011 was a significant year for Pakistan’s mobile industry after it became, by most estimates, the 9th largest mobile market in the world.
Global research firm TNS also revealed in its Mobile Life report that the country now has more than 103 million phones, with some sources placing the actual number of users nearer 130 million. 2011 was a landmark year for Nokia too, as the company celebrated the shipment of its 1.5 billionth Series 40 phone – that’s a lot of phones!
Mobile phones have transformed the lives of millions of people across Pakistan, connecting communities and helping develop both the rural and urban economies. As recently as 2001, the country had just 300,000 subscribers and was a fairly immature mobile market. Fast forward ten years and Pakistan is at the forefront of the mobile revolution in the emerging world.
Today’s top phones often contain as much processing power as a desktop PC did five years ago, and can often do far more, but in Pakistan it is Dual SIM handsets that have been the bedrock of the country’s mobile revolution.
Users are attracted to the flexibility and choice offered by multi-SIM handsets in a market with the abundance of operators and pricing plans.
Historically Pakistan’s mobile users have been confronted with a sea of sub-par handsets when choosing a Dual SIM phone and the market has stagnated in a slew of low quality products. As users have matured so have their demands, with increasing numbers of customers wishing to access the variety of services that mobile phones can offer, from feature-rich applications to online services.
The country’s infrastructure has benefited from increased investment from both the public and private sectors and is now approaching the point when it can start to handle the data hungry demands of the modern mobile user.
In response to these challenges, last year Nokia used its world class heritage in mobile phone development to produce a range of Dual SIM handsets that offer users an intuitive, feature-rich experience at a price that everyone can afford. Intensively researched and carefully developed, Nokia’s technology is designed specifically with the Pakistani consumer in mind, including bespoke features like Easy Swap which can remember up to five SIM cards.
The result was the Nokia X1-01 and C2-00 – budget phones that come with more memory, a better battery life and intuitive SIM change options.
This represented a significant proportion of the 3.3 million Dual SIM handsets that Nokia shipped in 2nd half of last year, and proves that consumers are seeking feature-rich phones at affordable prices.
These innovations, rather than diluting operator revenues, are actually driving Average Revenues per Unit (ARPUs), as well as improving the user experience. Take Telenor – the World Cellular Information Service reported that ARPUs across all its metrics, including both post-paid and pre-paid, were stable between March and June 2011.
Getting people online should be at the forefront of every carrier’s strategy. The mobile phone industry in Pakistan is one of the fastest growing sectors in consumer goods, and the population has demonstrated that they are willing to embrace quality phones. Research from the University of the Punjab, published in the International Journal of Business and Social Science last year, has shown that the majority of users in Pakistan consider mobile phones a “necessity of life” and will consider almost all features of a handset when purchasing.
The latest industry statistics show that GPRS data usage on Nokia handsets in Pakistan is now well above 40% across the board. Coupled with that around a quarter (23%) of Dual SIM X2-01 users in Pakistan have become first-time internet users, experiencing the benefits of apps, enjoying multi-media messaging and a host of other online activities for the first time.
Personal relationships are growing and communities developing as customers evolve beyond the standard phone calls and SMS into a media-rich user experience. Nokia has pledged to connect a billion people, and this is another step in the realization of that goal.
2012 promises to be an exciting year for the mobile industry in Pakistan. Both handset activation and user numbers are predicted to continue to rise, and more people than ever are on course to access the internet for the first time.
Having revolutionized the Dual SIM market last year with its range of robust, feature-heavy phones at affordable prices, Nokia is planning to build on its successful partnership with Telenor. Nokia is already in discussion with operators across the country to help customers benefit from affordable internet data bundles, and ensure that when users take their first step onto the mobile internet, Nokia will be with them all the way.
Facts and figures given in this article were provided by Nokia Pakistan.