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Smartphone sales buck the recession

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A report by Infonetics Research is forecasting an 8% drop in the total number of mobile phones sold in 2009, to 1.1 billion worldwide (down from 1.2 billion in 2008), in line with predictions from Nokia, among others. Smartphones were the best performing segment of the mobile phones market in 2008 and the only segment to show unit and revenue growth in the second half of the year as the world economy entered recession.

"Smartphones are evolving quickly, and differentiation is becoming increasingly based on software and OS rather than form factor. Smartphones still compete on hardware features that support key apps like photography or video viewing, but software and applications that enable a user's preferred mobile uses have an increasing influence on device selection -- personalization will be king. For instance, the Android platform may be a work in progress, but the first handset to use it, the G1, is attracting high levels of interest, and future models are likely be optimized for key web applications like social networking. Open source platforms like Android are gaining traction and shaping the new competitive landscape."- Richard Webb, Directing Analyst - WiMAX, Microwave, and Mobile Devices - Infonetics Research.

Bucking the general trend, smartphones are expected to out-perform the downturn and show modest growth in 2009, and will be the only mobile phone segment to maintain annual revenue growth over the next five years, and the only to post double-digit annual revenue growth from 2011 through 2013. Meanwhile, the market penetration of higher-end phones is driven by accelerating HSPA deployments in North America, Western Europe, and developed regions in Asia Pacific.

Infonetics also note that as a proportion of the total mobile phone market, W-CDMA gained a couple of percentage points in 2008 at the expense of CDMA2000, and GSM remained proportionately flat. Nokia maintained its clear leadership of total mobile phone market share in 2008, due to its established brand, stability of the newly-acquired Symbian OS, and its strong visibility in multiple segments (low-end, high-end/feature phone, smartphone), while Samsung strengthened its solid second position in 2008, increasing its lead over Sony-Ericsson. LG overtook Motorola in 2008 to claim fourth spot in worldwide mobile phone revenue market share.

Symbian retains market leadership of the smartphone operating system (OS) market, followed by BlackBerry, which regained its #2 spot after being overtaken by the surge in iPhone units in the third quarter of 2008

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