Calling Asia

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb 15, 2007 (AFP) – With mobile phone markets nearly saturated in the developed world, network operators and handset manufacturers are turning their attention to the fertile ground of emerging countries.

Making affordable phones and targeting consumers with smaller budgets have now become priorities for the largest companies in the sector who were all present at this week’s 3GSM trade show in Barcelona.

“There are between 2.5 and 2.8 billion people who have a mobile phone: the next billion will come from the high-growth market,” said David Taylor, strategy director for Motorola.

The areas representing the most opportunity are Asia, Africa and the Middle East, he said.

According to European telecommunications institute Idate, the average spending per user is about 26.50-37.50 euros (34.8-49.2 dollars) per month in industrialised countries, but this figure falls to about 8.20 euros in the newly targeted emerging countries.

But the network operators seem little concerned by the prospect of smaller budgets and a market characterised by pre-paid cards rather than subscriptions.

“India represents a fabulous opportunity for us,” said the chief executive of Vodafone, Arun Sarin, at the 3G