Mobile phone sales down

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New research from Gartner claims that global mobile phone handset sales declined in the fourth quarter 2008 from a year earlier and demand isn't expected to stabilise before 2010.

Gartner said around 315m mobile phones were sold in the fourth quarter 2008, down 5% from a year earlier as manufacturers continued to struggle against low consumer confidence in both emerging and mature markets. However, the mobile phone industry did experience growth in the full year 2008, with sales to end users increasing 6% year–on–year to surpass 1. 22bn units. " Mobile devices in both emerging and developed markets experienced the lowest quarter–on–quarter growth (2%) ever recorded in a fourth quarter, " said Gartner mobile device research director Carolina Milanesi. " Efforts to reduce inventory will intensify in the first quarter of 2009 and continue into the second quarter of 2009, " she added. Nokia kept its market–leading position, selling nearly 119m phones in the fourth quarter, although its market share fell to 37. 7% from 40. 4% a year earlier. Its delay in rolling out products with touchscreen functionality caused its smartphone sales to suffer, Gartner said. South Korea's Samsung increased its market share to 18. 3% at 58m units sold. Its quick response to demand for touch interfaces was the main reason for its success. LG Electronics increased its market share to 8. 9%, selling 28m units. Sony Ericsson's market share fell to 7. 5% as its sales volumes declined to 24m units. " As both music players and cameras have become more widespread in the competitors' portfolios, it has been more difficult for Sony Ericsson's Walkman and Cybershot product ranges to stand out, " said Gartner. Motorola's market share fell to 6. 9% due to a lack of third–generation products, touch screen devices and features such as GPS in its portfolio, Gartner said. The company sold 22m units in the fourth quarter. Gartner said fourth–quarter handset sales in Asia/Pacific fell 8. 4% on the quarter to 107m units, mainly due to lower replacement sales. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, sales fell 3. 5% on the year to 59. 3m units as consumers were more conscious of their spending. Sales in Japan dropped 31. 4% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, mainly due to rising retail prices. North American handset sales were roughly flat year–on–year at 49. 1m units. Smartphone sales grew to account for around 20% of total sales, helped by introduction of new products such as the RIM (RIMM) BlackBerry Storm.

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