OTT mobile VoIP subscribers to hit 1B in 2013

Despite 550% subscriber rise in 2012, average annual revenue per user remains meagre rn

The number of global over-the-top (OTT) mobile VoIP subscribers increased more than 550% in 2012 to top 640 million, and is expected to approach the 1 billion mark this year, according to Infonetics Research.

“While Skype dominates the over-the-top mobile VoIP space, the market is seeing other applications such as Fring, KakaoTalk, Line, Nimbuzz, WeChat and Viber gain in strength,” says Diane Myers, Principal Analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics Research.

“But the fact remains that most OTT mobile VoIP providers are making very little money per user. In 2012, the average revenue per user was a meagre USD 7.13 annually. Since this alone is an unsustainable business model, most providers are turning to advertising, third-party apps and wholesale arrangements with traditional operators.”

According to the research firm’s report, roughly 40% of all active users of OTT mobile VoIP services in 2012 were with Microsoft, through its Skype subsidiary. Additionally, the report forecasts the number of VoLTE subscribers to grow at a 145% compound annual growth rate from 2012 to 2017.

OTT mobile VoIP combined with VoLTE services is expected to expand into USD 16 billion business by 2017, claims the report.

“On the VoLTE front, the success of SK Telecom’s VoLTE adoption—3.6 million subscribers in April 2013—has lifted our forecast,” says Stéphane Téral, Infonetics Research’s Principal Analyst for Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics. “We now expect 12 commercial VoLTE networks and 8 million VoLTE subscribers by year-end, with about three-quarters of those in Asia Pacific.”