Mon, 23 Sep 2002

Mobile phone sales skyrocket in RI

Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Cellular phone sales in the country catapulted 67 percent to more than 2.4 million in the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year, due in most part to declining prices for handsets and phone cards, according to the Indonesian Cellular Phone Association (ATSI).

Cellular subscribers jumped to 8.1 million by the end of the first half of the year, from 6.5 million by the end of last year, the association said.

Of the total handsets sold in the first half of the year, 1,439,100 were bought by first-time users, while the remaining 986,250 were purchased by those wanting to replace their handsets.

Cellular phone sales for the first semester of last year reached 1,453,050, including 902,700 bought by first-time users and 550,350 by those wanting to replace their old handsets, ATSI data said.

ATSI has predicted annual sales of handsets to top 3.5 million this year, while new cellular subscribers will increase by 3 million in the second half of the year to hit 9.6 million by the end of this year.

ATSI chairman Rudiantara said that people were now keen to buy cellular phones and replace their old equipment following the drop in the price of handsets and phone cards.

"With handsets costing Rp 400,000 (US$45) and starter kits, or new mobile numbers, priced at Rp 150,000, you can now have a complete cellular phone," said Rudiantara.

From 1997 to the end of June 2002, a total of 8.5 million handsets were sold in the country, while total cellular subscribers numbered 8.1 million. This means that 400,000 handsets were owned by users with more than one handset.

Forty percent of the country's mobile users live in the Greater Jakarta area.

Rudiantara said Finland-based handset manufacturer Nokia was the largest supplier to the country with a market share of 70 percent.

Siemens ranks second in terms of sales volume, followed by Samsung and Ericsson.

However, in terms of sales revenue, Samsung is the second largest supplier after Nokia, followed by Siemens and Ericsson. Samsung's handsets are costlier than Siemens and Ericsson's products.

ATSI said compared to other Southeast Asian countries, the number of cellular subscribers in Indonesia was fairly high. But the country has the lowest ratio of cellular subscribers to the population.

Until the end of this year's first semester, Malaysia had 8.3 million cellular subscribers, Singapore some 3 million, while the Philippines had 12.7 million.

Rudiantara added that the average replacement handset in the region, including Indonesia, was considered high compared to Australia and European countries.

Customers in Southeast Asia usually replace their old handsets with new versions not more than three years later, while in Europe and Australia, people tend to keep their handsets for more than four or five years.

"Mobile phone customers in Australia and European countries use the device due to its functions' capabilities, while in Indonesia function comes second after trend and prestige, which are the main factors for people to use the device," said Rudiantara.