Mobile phone users around the world are expected to grow at less than 6 percent per annum in the next five years, the Taipei-based Market Intelligence Center (MIC, 資訊市場中心) said yesterday.
Handset users are expected to grow to more than 4 billion in 2012, compared to more than 3 billion this year, MIC said in its latest forecast. The mobile phone penetration rate may rise to 57.2 percent in 2012 from more than 40 percent this year, MIC said.
"Growth is slowing as the main driving force will come from replacement demand rather than emerging markets," MIC industry analyst Su Yung-sheng (蘇永生) said.
The annual growth rate was 7.8 percent between 2001 and last year and 10.4 percent between 2001 and 2005, MIC statistics showed.
The handset market is nearing saturation in Europe and other developed countries, Su said, adding that the future growth pickup will be from China and India.
Su projected that mobile phone replacement ratios will grow 68 percent this year.
The world's top five mobile phone brands -- Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG Electronics -- will have a 75.3 percent share of the world's handset market, MIC said, without providing a basis for comparison.
MIC said there would be two major trends in mobile phone development: one will focus on low-cost, ultra-thin and multi-function phones, while the other will focus on new technologies and trendy designs.
MIC industry analyst Chen Quan-ming (陳冠名) said user-friendly features such as Micro-Electronic Mechanical Systems (MEMS), 3D Accelerometer and ID verification will become the major features in mobile phones.
The use of MEMS on mobile phones has become very common, including the 3D Accelerometer, which is used in Nintendo's Wii Remote, its wireless controller and Apple Inc's iPhone, Chen said.
Meanwhile, the penetration rate of local 3G mobile phone users has only reached 9 percent, mostly men aged between 45 and 55, the results of a new survey showed yesterday.
The survey, conducted by Brain Magazine (動腦雜誌) and Taylor Nelson Sofres PLC (模範市場研究), found that local 3G mobile users are mostly attracted to the phone's enhanced communication capabilities, with 37 percent of respondents using their phones to send video messages or e-mails.
More than 30 percent of the survey's respondents believe that 3G mobile phones will bring greater convenience to life.
Statistics compiled by the National Communications Commission show that Taiwan has 2.36 million mobile phone users as of the second quarter of this year. Of that number, 27 percent are 3G and PHS users.