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Mobile phone sales to fall in 2009

26 ноября 2008

Device shipments grew 6% in third quarter compared to 16% during same period in 2007, but outllok bleak.

Gartner on Tuesday predicted that global mobile handset sales will see a low single-digit decline in 2009.

"It is too early to say how long the economic climate will impact the devices market, but we expect market conditions to remain challenging through at least the first half of 2009," said Carolina Milanesi, Gartner's director of research for mobile devices.

"We expect sales in 2009 to show a low single-digit growth contraction," she commented.

According to statistics gathered by the research firm, worldwide third-quarter device shipments rose to 309 million units compared to 291 million in the same period in 2007.
However, growth slowed year-on-year to 6% from 16%, as the economic downturn affected sales in both mature and emerging markets.

"Replacement sales in particular we affected," said Milanesi.

Gartner noted that Motorola's market share dropped again in the third quarter, as sales to end users fell to 24.6 million units.

"With no inventory left to burn from previous quarters and a portfolio that remains very weak, Motorola slightly built inventory during the quarter," said Gartner, in a statement.

Indeed the vendor itself reported in October that total device shipments fell 31.7% to 25.4 million from 37.2 million in the third quarter of 2007.

Milanesi said the deteriorating economic climate is particularly bad for Motorola and that she doesn't expect a turnaround any time soon.

"We expect Motorola's issues to continue well into 2009, and are puzzled by recent product announcements like the Aura – a $2,000 device – that seem to totally ignore current market dynamics," she said.

Meanwhile market leader Nokia also showed recently that it is not immune to the economic crisis either.

In mid-November the Finnish vendor cut its outlook for both the fourth quarter and full-year 2009 based on a sharp pull-back in consumer spending. However, Milanesi maintains that Nokia has the economies of scale to cope with the downturn, an opinion she relayed to Total Telecom when the company reported its third-quarter financials in October.

Gartner noted that Nokia sold 118 million phones in the quarter.


Japanese retreat

Gartner also reported that while total third-quarter sales increased in most regions, economic pressure is likely to impact device sales in a number of countries from the fourth quarter onwards.

The company said that Asia-Pacific sales rose 13.8% to 116.7 million units in the third quarter, but longer replacement cycles in mature markets, and the drop in disposable income felt in emerging markets means fourth-quarter sales are expected to be largely flat.

In Eastern Europe, the Middle East and
Africa, Gartner said that third-quarter sales grew 13.1% to 57.8 million units.

"Emerging markets, especially in
Africa, continued to display healthy growth," said Annette Zimmermann, senior research analyst for mobile devices at Gartner, in a statement.

However, she also said she expects economic woes to result in flat handset sales in these regions in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, handset sales in Latin America and
North America also showed slight growth of 5.5% and 4.5% respectively.

However, in
Western Europe 43.5 million units were sold in Q3, a decline from 47.2 million a year earlier, as longer 18 to 24-month contracts and the higher cost of living extended replacement cycles.

"Holiday sales should help boost the market in the final quarter of the year, but there are some signs that will worry vendors," said Milanesi.

"In the
U.K., O2 and T-Mobile are offering consumers money off their tariff if they postpone upgrading their handsets until January 2009.
This is an attempt to reduce subsidy costs and defer them to a new budget cycle, which is bad news for vendors and retailers," she added.

Still, it was the Japanese mobile market which saw the biggest third-quarter slowdown.

Gartner said handset sales to end users fell 28% year-on-year to 9.4 million units.

"Consumers showed little interest in upgrading their existing devices and when they did, they tended to purchase standard models rather than high-end ones with the latest functions," said Atsuro Sato, one of Gartner's Tokyo-based analysts.

Finally, Milanesi commented that overall the global outlook for the rest of the year remains bleak.

"A combination of lower-than-forecast sales of devices in the third quarter of 2008, limited availability of key devices, and a general lack of compelling products leads us to believe that annual growth in the mobile device market will be about 8% in 2008," she said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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