SIM card shipments soar


4G, NFC, security, new form factors, and connected consumer devices to overcome slowdown in SIM card market growth

SIM card annual shipments are expected to rise in 2013 by 5% to 5.5 billion units, according to predictions from ABI Research.

Growth is slowing for SIM card sales as markets near saturation and the SIM card becomes increasingly ubiquitous across different network technologies. However, areas of growth remain with new applications, form factors, and an increasing breadth of connected products, noted ABI.

Because of this, ABI stated that the related market value for SIMs will grow at a higher rate to $2.3 billion this year, while average selling prices are forecast to increase slightly over the next five years.

The emphasis is now on extracting maximum value from the 6.3 billion cards in circulation, which is set to rise to rising to 7.5 billion in five years. 4G rollouts, NFC, and solutions offering more advanced security for payments, DRM, authentication, and encryption, will all see higher end SIM cards shipping over the next few years, claimed ABI.

Security and ID practice director, John Devlin, commented: 'Following shipment growth in 2012 of 8%, this is the first time that the SIM card market has had two consecutive years of single digit growth. There is a growing emphasis from leading vendors on new developments to grow their SIM card businesses.'

He continued: 'The problem is that this is a limited market, highlighting this fact is that, even in 2017, over half of shipments will still be for use on 2G networks.'

New form factors and the growing need for data connectivity in consumer electronics and M2M devices will provide some further respite to a slowing market. In 2012, 3FF (third form factor, or micro SIM), 4FF (fourth form factor, or nano SIM), and MFF (M2M form factor SIM) accounted for 6% of shipments; by 2017 this will have increased to 33%.

Simultaneously, 3G and 4G will have grown from 19% to 42%. The end result of these advances is that high end SIMs, ie 512KB and above, will account for a third of SIMs shipping in 2017, stated ABI.


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