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Q2 handset sales drop, smartphones rise

13 августа 2009

Global sales of smartphones continued to rise in the second quarter as some users sought more features for their money, but the overall mobile phone market declined year-on-year for the third consecutive quarter and the fall in average selling prices is accelerating, research firm Gartner Inc.

Gartner's research director Carolina Milanesi said consumers who would usually buy mid-range phones were either now purchasing smartphones or were trading down to less-expensive handsets.

"We are seeing a lower revenue opportunity than we did a quarter ago," Milanesi told Dow Jones Newswires.

She said an increasing proportion of sales from emerging markets is also hurting average selling prices, because several cheap but feature-rich phones have been launched on these markets, giving consumers little reason to trade up.

"The decline in average selling price accelerated in the first half of the year and particularly affected manufacturers that focus on mid tier and low-end devices, where margins are already slim," Milanesi said.

Gartner said around 286 million handsets were sold in the three months to end-June, down 6.1% from a year earlier. The drop follows a 9.4% decline on the year in the first quarter - the biggest decline in mobile handset sales ever recorded.

Still, as in the first quarter, sales of smartphones such as Apple Inc's iPhone and Nokia Corp.'s N97 touchscreen handset rose, by 27% to 41 million units.

The rapid downturn in consumer spending has hammered the wider market as customers delay upgrades and hold off buying new phones. Prices of phones have been falling as phone companies and vendors try to stimulate demand. However, sales of smartphones are on the rise as vendors and wireless companies focus on marketing these devices in the hope of making more revenue per device.

Gartner said mobile phone distributors reacted to the lower demand by using up 13.9 million units of existing stock before ordering more, but said it expects the gap between sell-in to distributors and sell-through to customers to fall in the second half of 2009 due to restocking.

The overall handset market could return to positive growth in volume terms by the fourth quarter 2009, helped by reduced destocking, improving consumer confidence and new product launches from vendors including Sony Ericsson and Motorola Inc., Gartner's Milanesi said.

"Q4 is going to be a very strong quarter; there are a lot of products coming in time for Christmas," she added.

Manufacturers need to offer products with the features that consumers and operators are demanding most strongly - like touchscreens, focus on user interfaces and application/content ecosystems - and "work hard to keep operators loyal," Milanesi said.

Nokia maintained its leadership position, even though its market share fell to 36.8% from 39.5% as it lost ground to Samsung and LG. Gartner had more bad news for Nokia, noting that its portfolio remained skewed towards low-end devices and its newly-launched N97 high-end smartphone had met with little enthusiasm.

Samsung's market share increased to 19.3% from 15.2%, helped by strong sales of touchscreen devices, QWERTY-keyboard phones and smartphones, Gartner said, adding that it expects the vendor to take further market shares in the second half of 2009.

LG's market share increased to 10.7% from 8.8%. Gartner said it expects the company to keep moving into lower-tier devices to drive growth in emerging markets and take advantage of China's 3G rollout.

Motorola's market share fell to 5.6% from 10%. Its presence has rapidly concentrated on the Americas as it has lost most of its Western European market share, said Gartner. It said most operators and customers will be waiting for the launch of its new phones based on the Android operating system, planned for the fourth quarter 2009.

Sony Ericsson's market share fell to 4.7% from 7.5%. Gartner said the company has suffered from an uncompetitive range of handsets."Sony Ericsson has neglected to exploit key trends such as qwerty products for messaging and e-mail, internet browsing and navigation," it said.


Источник: Total Telecom

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