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Upside Growth for Multiple Mobile Phone Identities

Demand for multiple mobile profiles presents sizable opportunities in both developing and developed markets. In emerging markets, using more than one SIM card is common and is mainly driven by bargain hunting.

In Botswana, for instance, the number of mobile subscriptions reached 152 percent of the population in 2012, even though only 66 percent of the population used mobile phones -- meaning that most mobile users held more than one SIM card.

Savvy mobile network operators that are addressing the demand in three ways: dual-SIM handsets, traveler offers and virtual numbers -- according to the latest market study by Pyramid Research.

The recent comprehensive study examined the multiple identities opportunity and how mobile network service providers are addressing it.

Incentives for multiple mobile identities are different in developing and developed markets and the study took an in depth look at three main approaches to address the market.

This assessment included case studies of operators, such as Airtel and Tigo Rwanda, as well as the pure plays Movirtu and OneSimCard, and examined how these different market participants approach the multiple mobile identities opportunity.

"The dual-SIM handset market is of course dominated by the handset manufacturers and includes both feature phones and smartphones," says Ousmane Yatera, analyst at Pyramid Research.

Tigo Rwanda tried to address this market but did not have much success. The traveler market is fragmented, with a lot of pure plays that try to be innovative in their offers.

Apart from Airtel with its "one network" approach, few operators have provided a convenient and affordable offer for travelers.

The purchase of a local SIM card remains a common option, as does getting an international package from one's operator, but those offerings don't address the two main problems, affordability and convenience.

The virtual numbers market is fragmented, with many pure plays and few operators. In summary, Pyramid believes that the multiple mobile identities market is characterized by many different pure plays, but no one has succeeded in standing out from the crowd.

Moreover, mobile network operators have only just started offering services that address the problems that increasingly lead mobile phone users to adopt multiple mobile identities.

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