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7 January 2009


Handset market grows just 7% in 2008, but 3G+, smartphones and cellular modems to keep market ticking over in '09

The global mobile handset market went into a tailspin in October and November, which will result in a nearly 5% decline year-on-year in unit shipments in Q4/2008, according to analyst firm ABI Research’s newly updated report ‘Mobile Device Market Share Analysis and Forecasts’. However, while 2009 is likely to see more stormy economic weather, there are a few rays of sunshine.

“The number of WCDMA and CDMA2000 mobile handsets sold (currently 39% of the total) is expected to exceed 50% in 2009,” says ABI Research Asia-Pacific VP Jake Saunders. “Much of the brunt of the economic downturn will be experienced in the 2G categories. WCDMA handset shipments are projected to grow from 258 million in 2008 to 725 million in 2009. By 2013, more than 67% of all handsets shipped will be 3G/3G+ capable,” he adds.

“Another robust segment is smartphones,” says practice director Kevin Burden. “Smartphones captured 14% of the 2008 market and are expected to grow throughout the challenging period of 2009 and comprise 31% of the market by 2013.” Smartphones are among the most coveted pieces of prosumer electronics.

Cellular modems will also be a high growth sector in 2009, driven largely by USB modems, which will account for 80% of the shipment volume. ABI expects market volume to increase by more than 55% in the coming year as Asian vendors push forward with low-priced modems.

Operators continue to be creative with broadband plans to entice new users, offering options such as a free month with a modem purchase, as well as daily and weekend plans and per MB fees. “For as long as operators aggressively price and promote mobile broadband plans, cellular modems will continue to be a hot category, with considerable potential in SOHO [small office/home office] and SMB [server message block] segments,” concludes Burden.

See related items:

Mobile sales to show low single-digit decline in 2009

Mobile handset unit shipments continue to grow

Mobile phone sales rise 12% to 305m in Q2/2008

Economic slowdown bypasses mobile device market

Search: Handset shipments


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