Mobile phones old hat? A hat that grew 35% 2Q44 - Gartner

by Guy Kewney | posted on 07 September 2004

Worldwide mobile phone sales totalled over 156 million units in the second quarter of 2004, "a 35 percent increase from the second quarter of 2003," according to Gartner.

Guy Kewney

What makes the figures interesting is their global applicability. It isn't just in new markets, or developing markets, say Gartner analysts: "All regions experienced healthy sales of mobile phones in the second quarter."

But according to Ben Wood, principle analyst for "mobile terminals" the reasons for growth vary, according to market. So in mature markets, such as Western Europe and North America, "sales of replacement handsets ensured strong results," - mostly because of the shift to camera phones - while spectacular growth in emerging markets, notably Latin America, "further boosted unit sales," he said.

In the second quarter of 2004, Nokia suffered a decline in market share compared with the second quarter of last year (see Table 1). However, the company did increase its market share from the first quarter of this year (when its market share totalled 28.9 percent ).

"Nokia's price cuts gave it a small gain in market share compared to the first quarter, although the average selling price of its handsets fell in the second quarter," Benea Wood said. "Motorola maintained the second position based on its strong performance in the Americas, but Gartner expects Samsung to be battling with Motorola for the No. 2 position for the remainder of the year."

<1/> Table 1* - Worldwide Mobile Terminal Sales to End-Users<1/>Estimates for 2Q04 (Thousands of Units)<1/>

Note: This table includes iDEN and mobile WLL shipments, but excludes ODM to OEM shipments.

Motorola's market share slipped slightly in the second quarter compared with the first quarter of this year as it focused on profitability. It experienced a solid quarter with strong performances in North America and Latin America, but it lost market share in China.

Samsung had a successful quarter in terms of shipments; however, Gartner's analysis showed that not all of this volume reached end users, resulting in a gap between sell-in volumes and end-users sales in North America. Gartner analysts said this backed up inventory should sell through in the third quarter.

On a regional basis, the Western European market is being driven by consumers who got their first mobile phones in 2000 and 2001, and now they're upgrading to smaller colour screen phones with built in cameras that have become available at much lower prices.

Brazil continued to be the driving force in Latin America, although Mexico also contributed strong sales in the region. Other countries, such as Argentina, are showing signs of recovery from the economic downturn.

In North America, replacement sales were high as operators subsidised enhanced handsets, and consumers were willing to upgrade to devices with more features, especially camera phones.

Reflecting seasonal trends, Asia/Pacific mobile phone sales were down slightly from the first quarter of 2004. In China, the government's efforts to control the economy weakened demand for consumer electronics goods, such as mobile phones. In mature markets, such as Taiwan, Singapore and Australia, people held off on buying new phones as they hope for further price reductions or increases in subsidies.

More than 300 million mobile phones have been sold in the first half of 2004, and Gartner analysts have projected year-end sales to reach approximately 620 million units. However, the analysts said if current momentum is maintained worldwide sales could reach 650 million units. If mobile phone sales exceed 650 million units this year, it could result in excess inventory that could harm sales in the first half of 2005.

Additional information is in the Gartner Alert "Market Share: Mobile Terminals Worldwide, 2Q04." This is available on Gartner's Web site

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