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Smartphone market expectations wide of mark for 2009

19 февраля 2009

Expectations that smartphone shipments will grow by 10-20% in 2009 are wide of the mark, and companies basing their strategies on this estimate will run into trouble.

This is according to Dr Richard Windsor, global technology specialist at Nomura, who was speaking, somewhat ironically, during a LiMo Foundation event at Mobile Congress on Wednesday. LiMo is one of the two main Linux-based operating systems being developed for smartphones. Android is the other, of course.

Broad market estimates that have been made for smartphone shipments "do not correlate with what I see", said Windsor. He said he is concerned that such growth estimates will affect company planning and will therefore create problems for them as the year wears on.

He said Nomura estimated that around 180 million smartphones were shipped in 2008. The company typically classifies handsets costing above $180 and with a certain level of feature development as smartphones, and also includes BREW handsets as they are of a higher cost.

In 2009, Windsor said his expectation is that the smartphone market will be more-or-less flat, with a growth rate of 0.8% and again around 180 million shipments.

He noted, however, that this is markedly better than the prediction for the handset market as a whole, which Nomura is forecasting will decline by 15% this year, based on indications from Nokia and other handset manufacturers.

Windsor said there was no seasonal pick-up in mobile phone sales in late 2008 for the first time ever in a Q4. He said consumers are lowering their spending and as a result retailers are reducing their stocks. He thinks the inventory corrections will largely be completed in Q1, except in Latin America.

He conceded that his significantly lower estimates have come as a "surprise" to people. But he said that as long as companies are ready for this and are able to manage expectations, it does not matter.

Windsor said the big players in the mobile OS market continue to be Symbian, mobile Linux (both LiMo and Android) and Microsoft.

With regard to Linux, he said he thinks it is "not inconceivable that LiMo and Android will help each other out."

At present he said LiMo is the choice of the operators with a relatively well-defined architecture. He noted that Android has more market traction in terms of how many companies have said they plan to make handsets based on this OS, but described it as a "chaotic" platform.

Источник: Total Telecom

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