With tumbling voice tariffs contributing to declining Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) rates, mobile operators are actively pushing for growth of the non-voice value-added services (VAS) market. Despite the economic uncertainties, the mobile services market in South Asian and Middle East countries continues to sustain a growth path, especially in countries such as India.
The key trends in this market have been noted. Presently, mobile voice revenues constitute the largest chunk of mobile operator's revenues, relegating mobile data revenues to a miniscule percentage. However, the mobile operators have realized that in order to curb depleting ARPUs, they would need to widen their focus on increasing data revenues. In the case of Messaging, the popularity of Peer to Application (P2A) SMS, where mobile subscribers respond to an application such as voting through SMS for a TV program, is on the rise. In terms of Premium Content - Mobile Entertainment segment, it remains the most significant form of mobile VAS across the South Asia and Middle East geographies.
According to Lavanya Palani Batcha, Industry Analyst, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia and Middle East, "With many markets almost reaching saturation point or having surpassed saturation in terms of mobile subscriptions penetration, telecom service providers are in need to bolster the ARPUs; and mobile VAS has the potential to alleviate this issue of declining ARPUs."
The regional trend in different countries is equally interesting. India is the fastest growing mobile market in South Asia with good potential for growth amongst the rural population. The mobile VAS market is set to grow at a strong CAGR of 16.6 percent from 2008 to 2015.
Saudi Arabian mobile market has a high mobile penetration. However, the country still witnesses steady year-on-year growth in this sector. VAS market is expected to exhibit CAGR of 10.6 percent between 2008 and 2015.
Sri Lanka has a relatively moderate mobile user penetration of 42.4 percent; hence there is good potential for growth. 3G services such as Video SMS, Dial and Watch TV have been introduced.
UAE has one of the highest mobile subscription penetrations in the South Asia and Middle East region. Both mobile operators, Etisalat and Du, increasing their focus on revenue streams from VAS and mobile TV and mobile internet, have strong potential. Mobile VAS market estimated CAGR of 11.9 percent between 2008 and 2015.
The Egyptian mobile market still possesses a sizeable under-penetrated addressable market, thereby providing avenues for growth. Relatively strong CAGR of 14.1 percent is estimated for the mobile VAS market in Egypt between 2008 and 2015.
Pakistan's mobile market is robust with intense price wars amongst the local and foreign mobile operators. Estimated mobile VAS market CAGR is 16.8 percent between 2008 and 2015.
The mobile VAS market in South Asia and Middle East is anticipated to exhibit strong to moderate growth owing to untapped potential for VAS in these regions, 3G networks proliferation, and a saturation of revenues, and adoption of plain vanilla mobile voice services. The market is also expected to witness the emergence of stronger mobile VAS content providers/aggregators with the ability to grasp better revenue shares from the mobile operators.
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