“The moderate increase indicates the worldwide mobile handset market is bottoming out and now is returning to growth,” said Tina Teng, senior analyst, wireless communications for iSuppli. “Much of the growth was generated by two emerging regions: the Middle East and Latin America. Furthermore, several aggressive promotional campaigns boosted sales in North America, with regional shipments rising by 8 percent during the period.”
The rise in shipments is welcome news to a handset industry that has seen nine months of contraction. Shipments declined by 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2008, by 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and by a stunning 16.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009. By the first quarter of 2009, shipments had fallen by 58.8 million units compared to before the downturn began in the second quarter of 2008.
Shipments are expected to rise by 6 percent 280.9 million in the third quarter and by 8.3 percent to 304.2 million in the fourth. Despite the quarter-to-quarter increases, annual shipments are still expected to contract by 9.9 percent in 2009, with the total for the year amounting to 1.1 billion units, down from 1.23 billion in 2008.
“The global economic downturn has had a particularly harsh impact on the worldwide mobile handset as declining disposable incomes dissuaded consumers from making non-essential purchases like upgraded wireless handsets,” Teng said. “The recession brought to an end eight consecutive years of annual shipment growth for cell phones, and will result in the first market contraction since 2001.”
The attached figure presents iSuppli’s preliminary quarterly estimate for worldwide handset shipments.
Big handset makers get bigger
The world’s Top-5 handset suppliers dramatically outperformed the smaller players in the second quarter, based on a preliminary estimate from iSuppli. Combined shipments for the Top-5 brands rose by 12.1 percent in the second quarter compared to the first, while all other companies together experienced an 18.1 percent plunge.
However, among the Top-5 individual company performances vary dramatically, although the rankings for these companies did not change compared to the first quarter.
The best performance in the second quarter was posted by South Korea’s LG Electronics.
LG’s mobile handset shipments rose to 29.8 million units in the second quarter, up 31.9 percent from 22.6 million units in the first quarter. Company market share rose by 2.3 points to 11.2 percent.
“LG strong performance in the second quarter was due to its success in emerging regions, including the Middle East and Africa,” Teng said. “The company also managed to orient its product mix to more profitable handsets including new touch-screen devices.”
Motorola stops the bleeding
Embattled handset brand Motorola Inc. in the second quarter managed to increase its shipments by 0.7 percent to 14.8 million units, up from 14.7 million in the first quarter. While Motorola still underperformed the market and lost share, the rise brought to an end three consecutive quarters of declines in shipments for the company.
“Motorola finally has put a stop to its shipment slide due to its improved performance in North America and Latin America,” Teng said. “With this increase in shipments, Motorola has managed to secure its No.-4 ranking in the market.”
Nokia expands its lead
“The No.-1 player, Nokia, has been defending its dominant position since the third quarter of last year due to rising competitive pressure from Samsung, which has been expanding its sales in Europe and in emerging markets,” Teng said. “The company also has faced rising competition from smart phone players including Research in Motion and Apple Inc.”
Nokia was able to gain 2.1 percentage points of market share in the second quarter, with its shipments rising to 103.2 million units.
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. remains on track to achieve its target of more than 200 million mobile handset unit shipments this year. The company’s refreshed product lineup allowed it to increase its shipments by 14.2 percent and its share by 1.6 points compared to the first quarter.
Sony Ericsson, however, had another disappointing quarter.
“The company is known for leveraging the brand strength from Sony and its mid- to high-end multimedia devices,” Teng said. “Sony Ericsson’s product portfolio has not been adequately aligned with the two fastest-growing segments: smart phones and ultra-low-cost handsets.”
Company shipments declined by 4.8 percent and market share dipped by 0.5 percent from the first quarter.
The attached figure presents iSuppli’s preliminary share estimates of the mobile handset market during the second quarter.
For more information on this topic, see iSuppli’s new report, entitled: Mobile Handsets Show Signs of Reviving in Q2. [August 3, 2009]
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