Smartphone Sales Surge As Mobile Handsets Stall
Global mobile phone sales are stalling, but the smartphone sub-category continues to surge amid the flat sales in the overall category. Apple's iPhone, Research in Motion's BlackBerrys and Android-powered handsets lead the way. Worldwide mobile phone sales in 2009 totaled 1.21 billion units, a 0.9 percent decline from 2008 sales, but the fourth quarter was one of sharp growth, according to market researcher Gartner. Fourth quarter 2009 sales of 340 million units represented an 8.3 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2008. True to Gartner's prediction last year, device sales were strongest on the top and bottom, with the middle being squeezed. Sales were focused mainly on either smartphones or low-cost handsets. "Smartphone sales to end users continued their strong growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, totaling 53.8 million units, up 41.1 percent from the same period in 2008," Carolina Milanesi, Gartner research director, said in a statement. "In 2009, smartphone sales reached 172.4 million units, a 23.8 percent increase from 2008." Apple, Android and Research in Motion benefited from increased smartphone sales, while Nokia gained from cheaper handsets, especially in emerging markets which generally can't afford smartphones. Motorola and Sony Ericsson suffered losses, with Motorola down from 8.7 percent of the market in 2008 to just 4.8 percent of the market in 2009 and Sony Ericsson down from 7.6 percent to 4.5 percent.