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Smartphone sales continue to slow as economy hits

05 декабря 2008

Research firm Gartner Inc. Thursday said 36.5 million smartphones were sold in the third-quarter this year, an 11.5% increase from last year, but a slowdown from the 15.7% annual growth seen in the second quarter.

"The current economic climate is hitting sales of higher end devices," said Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza, who compiled the report." Going forward, we should expect the smartphone device market to continue to grow but at a slower pace."

Cozza said smartphone sales jumped 53% in 2007 compared with 2006, but growth this year is expected to slow to 18% on year. Sales will start improving next year, when the smartphone market is expected to grow by between 30%-35%, boosted by the growing number of touch-screen devices and phones based on Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

She said although leading mobile operators are subsidizing more smartphones, to get the hardware price down they tie customers to two-year contracts on data plans that are expensive for mainstream users.

Cozza said Nokia Corp's smartphone sales fell 3.1% in the period, hurt by its lack of a commercial touch-screen device. She said its recently announced N97 touch screen is a good step, but noted the device won't be available before the first half of 2009.

"In 2009, application portfolios will become one of the key strategic considerations for smartphone market players and, if successful, they deliver an alternative revenue stream and will improve consumer stickiness," Cozza said.

Applications such as music downloads, games, video, mapping, or any other service or tool that can be pulled from the Internet, help to stimulate sales of high-end devices, she said. She said Apple Inc.'s application store has been a hit with iPhone users, and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. plans something similar for next year.

"If Nokia is going to gain back smartphone market share, it is going to have to succeed with Ovi (its Internet service portal)," she said.

The North American market grew 68% year on year during the quarter, with Research In Motion and iPhone making up more than 70% of the market there.

Cozza said the large year-on-year percentage gain in North America reflects the relatively recent availability of smartphones to the consumer market, in contrast with Europe where they have been commonplace for some time.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa grew 14% in the quarter, with Nokia losing some 8% of its market share there.

Sales in the Asian/Pacific market fell 11%, while sales in Japan fell 23%. In Latin America, despite the decline in sales for all handsets, the smartphone market grew 56%. The sales were bolstered by the official introduction of Apple's iPhone 3G across a dozen of countries, Cozza said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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