GOVERNMENT officials say the number of mobile phone users in Cambodia has increased nearly 15 percent this year despite a softer local economy.
"Cambodia has the most mobile users in the world," said Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun, citing data from Pyramid Research showing Cambodia has the highest rate of cell phone use per capita among developing nations.
So Khun told the Post on Tuesday that the government expects to have three million mobile phone users by year's end.
Hirokazu Ishizuka, corporate vice president and head of Sony Ericsson Asia Pacific, wrote in an email response that the company is satisfied with its business performance in Cambodia since it entered the market last year.
"We are optimistic about the business potential in Cambodia given the growth in the telecom and mobile industry," Ishizuka said.
He added that Sony Ericsson will closely monitor business in Cambodia. "We consider ourselves a new player in Cambodia and are still in the brand-building phase," he said. "I think that Cambodia's economy is going from strength to strength, and it is natural that its people aspire to a higher standard of living," he said.
Sony Ericsson forecasts that the market for 2008 will grow at a rate of 10 percent, from more than 1.1 billion units worldwide in 2007. In the third quarter of 2008, the company shipped 25.7 million units globally. The company did not reveal country-specific data, Ishizuka said.
Thai Tino, chairman of K Thong Hout Telecom Ltd, a distributor of top-selling mobile phone brand Nokia, also declined to provide details of sales in Cambodia.
Dy Vongneak, owner of the Apsara Phone Shop in Phnom Penh, said greater numbers of customers are demanding the latest, and most expensive, models.
"My shop usually sells about 30 phones per day, with the greatest demand for Nokia, Sony Ericsson and LG, but sales have dropped off a little bit," he said.
Kang Chandararot, director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said the rise in mobile phone users has less to do with the national economy than with external factors.
"I think the increase means that the local market is improving, and it is a sign that the climate is right."