Global Phone Market Down 11%

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Research firm IDC finds that the worldwide market for mobile phones is fell 10.8 percent in the second quarter, with small signs of improvement in smartphone sales.

Market research firm IDC has released its figures for worldwide smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2009, and while the number are an improvement over the first quarter of the year, shipments were still off 10.8 percent compared to the same quarter of 2008. And that first quarter was even worse than IDC thought: IDC has revised its shipment figures for the first quarter to a 17.1 percent year-on-year decline, even steeper than the 15.8 percent it initially reported.

IDC cited uncertain demand, exchange rate volatility, and aggressive channel destocking as key factors in the decline, although demand for high-end smartphones has created a bit of a price war among large mobile operators and handset vendors, led by Apple’s price cut on the iPhone 3G.

“Vendors who were able to adjust quickly were rewarded with greater shipment volumes,” said IDC senior research analyst Ramon Llamas, in a statement. “Although this tested the handset vendors’ abilities to hit a moving target, customers reaped the benefits of lower costs, even on key high-end devices.”

According to IDC, Nokia remains the top handset maker on earth with second quarter shipments of 103.2 million units—although that’s a year-on-year decline of 15.4 percent. Samsung took second place with 52.3 million units shipped, while LG, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson rounded out the top five manufacturers. Of the major makers, only Samsung and LG saw positive growth in shipments between 2008 and 2009; Motorola saw the steepest decline, with a 47 percent year-on-year drop in shipments, although it managed to ship more handsets in the second quarter of 2009 than in the first.

Overall, IDC forecasts that the global handset market will decline some 13 percent in 2009 compared to 2008.

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