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Mobile makers braced for painful 2009

27 октября 2008

The world’s leading mobile phone makers are braced for a painful 2009 after warnings that sales of handsets could fall sharply for the first time in eight years.

Sales next year could fall by between 4 and 27 per cent compared with 2008, depending on the severity of the expected global recession, according to industry analysts.

The slowdown unleashed by the credit crisis is already hurting sales in the developed world, notably in western Europe.

Rising inflation in emerging markets is also hitting sales, because some people are either deciding not to buy mobiles for the first time or waiting longer to upgrade to better handsets.

If sales fall, it would mark the end of almost 15 years of uninterrupted growth for handset makers. The only previous fall in mobile sales was a 4 per cent decline in 2001.

Andrew Griffin, analyst at Merrill Lynch, said in a research note that the number of handsets sold in 2009 could fall by 5 per cent compared with 2008.

He added that in a slowdown, mobile sales to first-time buyers could not compensate for the trend of existing handset users taking longer to buy new models.

Vincent Rech, analyst at Société Générale, said mobile sales were closely aligned with global economic growth.

He said gross domestic product growth of 2.4 per cent in 2009 could result in flat handset sales. No growth could result in a 27 per cent fall in mobile sales.

Rod Hall, analyst at JPMorgan, estimated a 3.9 per cent fall in handset sales in 2009, but said history suggested the decline could be worse.

Nokia cemented its position as the world’s largest mobile maker by leading the charge into emerging markets. But last month it shocked investors by warning that its market share would decline in the three months to September 30, compared with the previous quarter, partly because of price cutting by rivals.

Nokia is expected to issue its 2009 mobile sales forecast for all handset manufacturers in December. Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, the Finnish company’s chief executive, declined to provide a forecast this month.

Of the world’s top five handset makers, Motorola and Sony Ericsson look the most vulnerable in the downturn. Motorola, which reports third-quarter results on Thursday, is planning to spin off its handset division, while Sony Ericsson is cutting 2,000 jobs.

Источник: Financial Times

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