Mobile Device Sales Sputter in 2009

Mobile devices, and especially smartphones, haven't suffered as much as the overall tech industry during the recession, but will the sector continue to be a bright spot in the coming months?

Worldwide mobile handset sales in 2009 will come in at about even with 2008 according to a report from Gartner, which is an improvement over earlier projections that sales would decline compared to last year.

It was only due to a surge in sales in Western Europe and an acceleration in the gray market in the third quarter of this year that the mobile handset market was able to overcome an earlier deficit vs. 2008. Gartner now projects worldwide mobile device sales to end users at 1.214 billion units, a nearly flat, 0.67 percent decline from 2008.

Just three months ago Gartner projected a 3.7 percent decline for the year. For 2010, Gartner now thinks sales will grow nine percent year over year.

As in the desktop/laptop and server businesses, the economic climate worldwide caused customers to hold on to their mobile devices a little longer. With disposable income squeezed, consumers extended replacement cycles in mature markets 12 to 18 months longer. Just to show how short the lifespan is for handsets, Gartner puts the average lifespan at 18 to 24 months.

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