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Mobile sales keep falling

2 min

The fourth quarter of 2008 saw 289 million mobile phones sold, representing a fall of 12.6 % compared with the same period a year earlier. Looking at the whole year, the industry grew by 3.4 %.


AFP - Mobile phone sales fell by 12.6 percent to 289 million units in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with the same quarter a year ago, market research firm IDC said Wednesday.

For the full year, mobile phone vendors shipped a total of 1.18 billion units worldwide, IDC said, 3.5 percent more than the 1.14 billion units of 2007.

The company described the double-digit drop in mobile phone shipments in the fourth quarter as an "unusual downturn," but said the first half of 2009 would remain "very challenging."

"The fourth quarter was the perfect storm of factors to produce this result," said Ramon Llamas, a senior research analyst with IDC.

"A combination of weak end-user demand, currency volatility, and limited credit availability prevented the market from experiencing the usual seasonal increase in shipments," he said.

Llamas said IDC expects the first half of 2009 to be "very challenging as vendors and distributors grapple with clearing inventory.

"Should these conditions persist, the mobile phone market may not recover until later this year, and possibly not until 2010," he said.

On the bright side, sales of smartphones, which allow users to surf the Internet or send and receive email, grew by 22.5 percent in 2008 compared with the previous year, IDC said.

"In mature markets, such as North America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), the converged mobile device segment grew 70.1 percent and 25 percent respectively in 2008," said Ryan Reith, another senior IDC research analyst.

"As long as operators are able to continue to subsidize these devices, and developers continue to enhance applications, then this segment will be a silver lining to an otherwise gloomy market," he said.

IDC said Finland's Nokia remained the top mobile phone maker in 2008 on sales of 468.4 million units, a 39.7 percent market share.

South Korea's Samsung was next with sales of 196.7 million units, a market share of 16.7 percent, followed by another South Korean firm, LG Electronics, with 100.7 million units, an 8.5 percent share of the market.

US company Motorola was fourth on sales of 100.1 million units, also an 8.5 percent market share, followed by Sony Ericsson, which shipped 96.6 million units for an 8.2 percent market share.

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