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Which Country Will Have the Most Mobile Subscribers by the End of 2012?

If you have answered China then you are almost certainly wrong!

If you have answered China then you are almost certainly wrong! It will be India. In fact, we may not have to wait till the end of 2012. India is likely to surpass China by the middle of 2012.

May 2011 statistics say China = 896 million subscribers against India = 840 million subscribers (see Wikipedia). The gap is about 56 million. For the past few years, India has been adding significantly more subscribers every month. Current statistics indicate that India is adding 50% (5 to 7 million) more subscribers than China.

Chetan Sharma Consulting has produced a nice graph depicting this growth. It is the slide 19 in this presentation. [BTW: It is worth going through this presentation]

But this does not make sense!
[These stats are pulled out from Wikipedia]

  • Not only does China have more people compared to India (China = 1.34 billion, India = 1.21 billion), China has much larger adult population, people who are 15+ (China = 83.4%, India = 69.2%).
  • China has a much large urban population. In China 1 in 2 people live in an urban area were as in India the number is less than 1 in 3.
  • China has more than 3 time per capita GDP in nominal term (China = US$ 4382, India = US$ 1265) and about 2.5 time in PPP term (China = US$ 7519, India = US$ 3339)
  • In terms of infrastructure China is 10 to 15 years ahead on India.
  • Most mobile handsets are manufactured in China

So, what makes people in India wanting and affording a mobile compared to China?

Possible explanation

  1. Competitiveness: India mobile market is much more competitive. According to Chetan Sharma in a scale of 0 (= most competitive) to 1 (= total monopoly) – India = 0.1 and Chine = 0.55. (see this)
  2. Spider vs. Starfish syndrome: India is very decentralized were as China in centrally controlled (what is spider vs. starfish)
  3. Oral tradition of India: Historically Indians have been more focused on oral communication than written one (see this). In China, expressing you view is not encouraged.

What do you think?

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting