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Study: Handset sales fall, but will flatten in 2010

Mar 26, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

ABI Research projects that cellular handset sales will fall eight percent this year, but should stabilize in 2010. The research firm also announced it is hosting a free webinar on April 9 that will discuss both mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and wireless-enabled embedded M2M (machine-to-machine) devices.

After this year's eight percent decline in overall global handset sales, 2010 will see flat growth, says ABI Research. The company did not break down the results by operating system (OS), nor did it provide separate predictions for smartphones such as the Linux-ready Palm Pre, pictured at top. The firm did, however, offer some breakdown by region, stating that the Asia-Pacific region, which has roughly triple the handset shipment volume compared to the next largest region, will see the largest drop in sales this year. While North America and Europe should see a stabilization in sales in 2010, declines are likely to continue a bit longer in Asia-Pacific, ABI suggests.

“There are telltale signs that at least some parts of the handset ecosystem may be starting to steady,” said ABI practice director Kevin Burden. “Many handset vendors are replacing component inventories after reducing them to very low levels in recent months. This doesn't necessarily mean the whole market is doing better, but it is good news at least for the component suppliers, some of which were really suffering.”

HTC Magic

(Click for details)

The ABI findings appear to jibe with a recent study by IDC, which forecast that handset shipments will fall by 8.3 percent in 2009, compared to a growth rate of 4.3 percent in 2008. IDC also projected that Asia, and specifically Japan, would show the greatest drops, showing Japanese handset sales dropping by 24.6 percent this year.

IDC and other forecasters have been more bullish about the high-end smartphone market, however, where the latest Linux-based models such as the upcoming Palm Pre and Android-ready HTC Magic (pictured) are represented. The global smartphone market will grow by 3.4 percent this year, says IDC.

A more optimistic February report from Forward Concepts projected that the smartphone market will slow to a 13 percent growth rate in 2009, and will rebound in 2010. Meanwhile, a study released earlier this month from In-Stat, forecast that Linux would represent the fastest growth among OSes in a continuing strong smartphone market.

Webinar looks at emerging wireless device markets

Hosted by Sam Lucero and Philip Solis, ABI's April 9 webinar is entitled “Wireless Connectivity Beyond the Handset: Netbooks, MIDs, Mobile Consumer Electronics, and M2M.” The discussion will cover wireless mobile devices such as MIDs, netbooks, and other consumer devices that inhabit the space between smartphones and laptops, as well as a wide array of cellular-enabled “machines,” ranging from automotive telematics to smart utility meters, says ABI.

Specific topics of the webinar are said to include:

  • What is “Cellular Machine-to-Machine (M2M)” and how does it relate to the concept of “the Internet of Things”?
  • What is driving growth in the cellular M2M market and what are the hurdles to overcome?
  • How can members of the cellular M2M value chain best position themselves for success in the market?
  • What are the prospects for ARM-based netbooks and Wintel smartphones?
  • Will there be room for MIDs in between all these newer smartphones and netbooks?
  • What is happening in the netbook and MID ecosystem?


ABI's handset projections are based on its newly updated “Mobile Device Market Share Analysis and Forecasts” database and study, which provides data on vendor market share, vendor ASPs and handset shipments, and penetration of advanced features, says the firm. A table of contents may be found here.

The ABI Research webinar, “Wireless Connectivity Beyond the Handset: Netbooks, MIDs, Mobile Consumer Electronics, and M2M,” is scheduled for Thursday, April 9, at 11AM EST. Free registration should be available here.

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