Russia’s Mobile Market Turns to the Internet

A few years ago it was normal to see Russians making short phone calls on SIM card services that only billed users on outgoing calls and texts.  Today, at least in major cities, its more common to see people using apps to order taxis, check traffic, or send an email.  Mobile phone use has remained relatively steady but the growth rate of mobile Internet users will show a much more significant increase.

Mobile Phone Market at a glance:

According to a recent research report by eMarketer, Global Mobile Landscape 2014, mobile phone users in Russia are expected to reach 122.3 million in the next four years.  The 2014 mobile penetration rate of 80% is expected to reach 86% by 2017.  However, the penetration rate of mobile Internet users is going to grow by almost 50% during that period (from 43% to 62%). The number of mobile Internet users is expected to rise from 61.5 million in 2014 to  88.1 million by 2017.


In 2012 high speed cellular bandwidth became more widely available, resulting in an initial 71% annual user growth rate that has since slowed down to a more considered pace.  Growth still remains strong and the next four years will continue to produce double digit growth rates for the smartphone industry according to eMarketer.

Over this time there has been a significant increase in smartphone sales. Although smartphones initially were less than a quarter of the total mobile sales in 2011, smartphone sales made up approximately half of all mobile sales in Q3 and Q4 of 2013 as faster bandwidth became more readily available in Russia.

eMarketer_smartpone sales_overall sales

The top three most popular smartphones include Google Android OS, Nokia Asha OS, and Apple iOS.  However, Android holds a significant lead in the market with 75.6% of sales in Q3 of 2013.

eMarketer Smart phone market share in Russia

Most importantly, 4G connections are expected to rise from 7 million in 2014 to 32 million by 2017.  Although this is a small portion of Russia’s 143 million population, high speed mobile Internet use is certainly picking up serious momentum in Russia.

eMarketer 4G LTE mobile connections in Russia