Author(s): Peter Bryer
We've recently reached a deceptive harmony: according to GSMAI, the world's population and the number of mobile subscriptions are in a state of near equilibrium at close to 7.3 billion each. That's a lot of people and a lot of subscriptions, but not nearly as many subscribers.
The difference between subscriptions and subscribers isn't trivial. Billions of people and hundreds of millions of households around the world are still unconnected. On the other hand, several billion are connected several times over. Dozens of countries have mobile penetrations rates greater than 150%, some with rates higher than 200%. In heavily prepaid markets like India and Nigeria, subscribers have mastered the art of SIM-juggling.
Dual-SIM feature phones have been on the market for many years, but the number of multi-SIM smartphones has been rising steadily recently. Global subscription statistics together with booming smartphone sales in developed and developing markets are driving a proliferation of dual-SIM models to the point that it's close to becoming a standard feature.
The past few weeks have seen launches, leaks and leads of new dual-SIM smartphones from brands like Lenovo, Meizu, Microsoft, Sony and Xiaomi. Currently every top-ten smartphone maker other than Apple offers at least one dual-SIM smartphone model, and hacks exist for the iPhones. Even chipset companies like Qualcomm offer device makers dual-SIM support.
Multi-SIM devices have worked their way up over the past decade, from basic phones by obscure brands to highly functional smartphones from nearly every manufacturer. The macro numbers will continue to support a mega market for multi-SIM devices. Makers are doubling down on dual-SIM.