Global SIM shipments grow by 5 percent in 2016

April 05, 2017 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
The SIMalliance, whose membership represents approximately 90% of the global SIM market, has reported a 5% year-on-year growth in its 2016 shipment volumes, with a total 4.9 billion units shipped during that period – the highest annual volume of shipment units reported yet. SIMalliance members estimate that the total available global market for SIM cards also grew in 2016 by 2.8% to 5.45 billion units.

Asia saw the strongest regional growth, with an annual increase in shipments of 14% to 2.53 billion units. Growth was driven by expansion across India, Indonesia and Pacific Asia. In India, the emergence of a new mobile network operator (MNO), together with ongoing LTE launches, contributed to 960 million units being shipped, reflecting a 17.5% increase on 2015 volumes. This also marks an increase on 2012 volumes in India, signalling that the market has moved back to positive growth following the adverse impact of government regulation on volumes in 2013. In Indonesia, a 62% increase was partly fuelled by continued LTE migration across the region. Despite the continuation of adverse economic conditions and the ongoing impact of regulation, volumes in China have begun to stabilise following a contraction which started in 2015. Shipments across technologically advanced Japan/Korea remained stable.

Across the Americas, the market remained static, with total shipments of 781 million units. While regulatory and economic challenges continued to affect Brazil, total South America volumes rose by 1.5%, buoyed by growth in other countries.

Shipment volumes in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) grew by 10% to 262 million units. Russia / Ukraine saw a 20% shipment increase, thanks to a degree of recovery from both political uncertainty and depressed oil prices in recent years.

A 5% contraction in volumes across Europe, to 420 million units, is attributed to MNO consolidation across the region. High levels of smartphone penetration and subscriber acquisition have kept shipments in the region stable in recent years.