Report Analyses SIM Smart Card Market

Analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World SIM Smart Card Market, reveals that the subscriber identification module (SIM) smart card market earned revenues of $2.07 billion (1.04 billion)in 2006, and estimates that this will reach $4.58 billion in 2012.
The price and subsequent revenue decline in the SIM smart card market has obliged silicon and SIM manufacturers to explore new revenue streams or find novel ways to milk the existing ones, the report says. Manufacturers are hoping that the greater adoption of innovative technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC), Mobile TV and high-capacity SIM cards will increase their unit shipment and revenue.
The issue of continuously falling prices has been compounded by the influx of low-cost products from China, say Frost & Sullivan Research Analysts Anoop Ubhey, Alejandra Etcharran, Michelle Foong and Lindsey McDonald. Although companies are turning to NFC and mega SIM cards, they are still apprehensive about the high costs involved in the migration.
SIM managers at the operator level need to have a thorough understanding of the usage of the additional memory. Mobile operators are also reluctant to make the transition to mega memory SIM cards, as it would require investments in a completely new base of USB-enabled handsets that can support these new SIM cards.
In addition, says Frost, they also have to make an extra effort to educate end users about the various applications content. However, the analyst says, once the shift is made, silicon and smart card manufacturers should respond to mobile operators demands and develop products and applications for these mega SIM cards.
The operators will have to rely on new subscriptions or upgrades of 2G to 3G handsets, as the cost of replacing a SIM card is usually 10 times the cost of the card itself, says Etcharran. The second option would be to issue lower-cost cards to 2G customers and high-end 3G cards only to new subscribers, in order to sell a greater number of cards.
Since high capacity SIM smart cards have no concrete cost structure, early movers will have an advantage, the report says. They can generate healthy revenue growth rates before the market attains mass market status and prices stabilise. A migration to high-capacity SIM cards and applications is likely in the next few years, the report finds, as greater convergence of mobile phone applications is hiking the demand for more secure complex SIMs.
With the increasing number of multimedia applications, mobile network operators now seek SIM-based multimedia solutions to better serve their customers and for this integration, the SIM requires greater memory, says Ubhey. Applications such as address book, calendar back-up, messaging, teleconferencing and file transfers, as well as entertainment through gaming and chat services encourage the migration process for a sustained professional and personal convenience.
This focus on solutions has gained significance with card vendors branching out into other areas of operations such as the Internet. The SIM smart card has integrated greater levels of support and security with cellular networks evolving from voice to data. Market participants can also persuade mobile operators to adopt advanced SIM technology by demonstrating how subscriber loyalty depends on the innovations in the SIM card.
The report is part of the Smart Cards Growth Partnership Service programme, which also includes research in the NFC, banking and access control markets. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.
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