Mobile subscriber growth slowing in BRIC countries

Although the mobile markets in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) continue to expand at a healthy pace, the days of triple-digit subscriber growth are long past. As subscriber bases solidify, it is now the mobile Internet user populations that are increasing rapidly, albeit from small bases, according to research firm, eMarketer.

With 3G networks being rolled out across most of the BRIC footprint, with India the lone exception, and mobile subscribers purchasing smart devices in rising numbers, mobile Internet access and data usage will become the growth engine, much as they have in other markets.

However, BRIC countries share low average per capita GDP and therefore a high percentage of price-sensitive prepaid users who spend little on mobile services beyond basic voice and text messaging. Consequently, impressive user numbers do not immediately, or easily, translate into big marketing opportunities.

All the BRIC countries have rising middle and upper-middle classes with increasing disposable incomes, and it is these consumers who are purchasing smartphones with data plans to access the web.

“Marketers interested in reaching the bulk of mobile consumers today should focus on messaging campaigns and leave flashier mobile site development, applications and display campaigns for this small vanguard of smartphone users,” said Noah Elkin, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the report, “BRIC Mobile: Emerging Markets Mature.”