Asia/Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) enjoyed a strong performance in mobile services in 2004, surpassing growth in the major regions of North America and Western Europe, IDC says. Total mobile subscribers in APEJ grew a robust 25.6% in 2004 over 2003 to 527.3 mln. The 10 key markets in APEJ also saw mobile service revenue grow a healthy 18% in 2004 year on year to $69.8 bln. India was the fastest growing market in the region as subscribers more than doubled to 48 mln, while China, the Philippines and Thailand were also significant contributors.
Led by strong subscriber growth, mobile service penetration in APEJ improved to 20% in 2004, from 16.1% in 2003. However, the diversity of these 10 markets in terms of market maturity, competition, network technology, growth potential, per capital income and service adoption, drew wide differences amongst markets. Five of these markets had reached penetration of 75% and above; namely, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan; while other emerging and less developed markets are catching up fast. But at the other end of the continuum is India, which still lags far behind with mobile service penetration at a paltry 4.5% in 2004. In the next phase of growth for mature markets, 3G services made noticeable progress last year. South Korea enjoyed more than doubling in 3G subscribers, while Australia and Hong Kong saw adoption rates pick up. 3G subscribers totaled 10.2 mln in 2004, accounting for 1.9% of the market in APEJ.