Thursday, 21 May 2009 04:07

Smart phones up, dumb phones down

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First-quarter figures from a leading analyst firm show sales of smartphones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry have increased while total handset sales have dropped.

According to figures from Gartner, smartphone sales rose to 36.4 million in the first quarter of 2009, up from 32.3 million in the year-ago quarter.

"Much of the smartphone growth during the first quarter of 2009 was driven by touchscreen products, both in midtier and high-end devices," said principal analyst Roberta Cozza.

"Touch for the sake of touch’ was enough of a driver in the midtier space, but tighter integration with applications and services around music, mobile e-mail, and Internet browsing made the difference at the high end of the market."

The big names in smartphones - Nokia, RIM, Apple, HTC and Fujitsu - all recorded an increase in sales volume during the quarter.

Although Nokia remains at the top of the pile, its smartphone market share slipped from 45.1 to 41.2 percent.

RIM and Apple showed strong gains, up from 13.3 to 19.9 percent and 5.3 to 10.8 percent respectively.

Gartner only counts HTC's own-brand sales, which underestimates the company's true position.

What about the overall handset market? You'll find the numbers on page 2.


Things were less rosy for the handset industry overall. In total, 269 million handsets were sold during the first calendar quarter, down 14.5 percent on the previous quarter and down 9.4 percent on the corresponding period in 2008.

While Nokia also maintained its position as the leading handset supplier, its overall market share slipped to 36.2 percent from 39.1 percent in 1Q08 as its sales volume dropped from 115.2 million to 97.4 million units.

Samsung and LG both had a fairly solid quarter.

Samsung saw volume rise from 42.4 million to 51.4 million pushing its market share up 4.7 percentage points to 19.1 percent, while LG went from 23.6 million to 26.5 million for a market share gain of 1.9 percentage points to 8 percent.

The losers were Motorola (dropping more than 13 million units to 16.6 million and losing 4 percentage points of share to 6.2 percent) and Sony Ericsson (down more than 7 million units to 14.5 million and 2.1 percentage points of share to 5.4 percent).

Gartner does not expect the demand for handsets to stabilise before the second half of 2010.

"Device vendors will focus increasingly on smartphones, improved user interfaces and services to differentiate themselves and fuel consumer demand," predicted Gartner research director Carolina Milanesi.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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