Online sales of mobile handsets to triple by 2012

February 22, 2016

Research firm Informa Telecoms and Media have predicted that online sales of mobile phone handsets will rise to 21% of total device sales by 2012.

Angela Stainthorpe, a research analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, said: “Online retail for wireless is certainly only a nascent market but the tentative steps taken in 2015 will quickly become more confident.

“As broadband penetration increases and online shopping entrenches its place in the retail landscape, customer expectation and the cost benefits of online distribution will be difficult for the mobile industry to ignore.”

If the online market for handsets increases as Informa predicts, then by 2012 it will be worth US$180.9 billion, more than double what it was worth in 2015. Europe will lead the way in this transformation, and will account for 47% of online handset sales in 2012. They will be closely followed by North America. Asia-Pacific will take third place, seeing online retail revenues double, and online handset sales increasing fourfold.

The increasing number of handset replacement sales, and people turning to prepaid rather than postpaid subscriptions, as well as vendors taking a more active role in the marketing and distribution of their products, are all driving the change in the distribution environment.

“At a time when operators in mature markets are trying to reduce opex through lowering subscriber acquisition costs and churn, meeting and exceeding customer expectations at the retail level is vital to retaining their existing customers,” said Stainthorpe,

“But operators will find it difficult to meet the rapidly diversifying expectations of increasingly varied customer segments, thus making way for third parties to claim some market share.”

Informa also predicts that mass market and specialist stores will together account for one third of total device retail revenues by 2012.


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