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Gartner Says Grey-Market Sales and Destocking Drive Worldwide Mobile Phone Sales
Nov 16, 2009
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Worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 308.9 million units in 3Q 2009, a 0.1% increase from 3Q 2008, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales surpassed 41 million units, a 12.8% increase from the same period last year.

Gartner said that grey-market sales are no longer limited to China. All manufacturers have to compete with gray-market players as they expand into emerging markets in Asia/Pacific, Eastern Europe, The Middle East and Latin America. Grey-market devices are no longer just ultra-low cost models.

Nokia's market share declined 1.5 percentage points year-on-year due in part to component shortages that may continue into the fourth quarter. Nokia faced pressure at the high end from competitors' new smartphones, so even as it rolled the N97 out to more countries in the third quarter of 2009, its ASP remained flat quarter-on-quarter at €62. Nokia should have strong end-of-year volumes as a result of good mid-tier products like the 5530 and 5230, but consumers seeking to upgrade to a high-end device may look elsewhere over the Christmas holiday sales.

Samsung had a strong 3Q 2009 with touchscreen devices, qwerty phones and smartphones driving sales in the mature markets of Western Europe and the US. It also refreshed older products making steady sales in emerging markets.

Motorola had a difficult 3Q 2009 as the market waited for products that it planned to launch in the fourth quarter. Similarly, Gartner said that Sony Ericsson's sales deteriorated further in the quarter as strong competition almost halved its market share and the vendor built a slight inventory during the quarter.

Apple’s worldwide smartphone share reached 17% as iPhone sales totalled 7 million units in 3Q 2009 following the continued rollout of the iPhone 3GS in new countries. Gartner said that its ASP is holding steady and sales in the fourth quarter should be even stronger as Apple starts selling in China, through one additional carrier in the UK, and in an additional 16 countries.

In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Gartner said that Android picked up momentum but with only a handful of Android devices available, its share remained modest at 3.5%. Windows Mobile 6.5 only became available in October, too late to have an impact on the third quarter, so sales of Windows-based smartphones saw another decline.

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