New figures from ABI Research show that shipments of SIM cards fell by 193 million to 4.94 billion units in 2013, which is a year-on-year decline of 3.8%.
The main factor blamed for this drop was the mobile telecom market in Asia, where SIM card shipments fell below 2011 levels with a 10% decrease. Last year was the first full year when customers in India were required to confirm their identity when buying pre-paid SIMs, which caused a significant drop in sales.
However, there was some good news, with network activity involving new 4G LTE and NFC-capable SIM cards increasing during the second half of 2013.
John Devlin, practice director at ABI Research, said “2013 might be regarded as a hard reset in some ways, a point where ongoing subscriber growth can no longer be counted on to drive volumes. While not discussed publicly, many have recognized that this time would come and vendors are refocusing on streamlining their businesses in an effort to either become as cost-efficient as possible in the supply of high volume low-end SIMs or to build up their software platform and service capabilities. It is clear that this is an increasingly dichotomized market and, with the exception of Gemalto, both card and IC vendors have to choose which end they wish to operate in.”
[ABI Research SIM Cards Research Service]