Three analyst shops reported mobile phone results during the past week, and the collective verdict is that the market is looking up after a long period of struggle.
ABI research said that the fourth quarter concluded with a "pretty reasonable bang," and that sales were up 15.1 percent over the third quarter, though the average device sale price sunk t2 percent to $117.55. The firm said that about 336.1 million handsets were sold. It credits the broadband stimulus with avoiding worse results. For the year, shipments were down 4.5 percent to 1.153 billion. The market share leaders during the fourth quarter were Nokia (33.7 percent), Samsung (20.5 percent, LG (10.1 percent), Sony-Ericsson (4.3 percent) and Motorola (3.6 percent).
IDC's percentage increase was almost four percentage points less, though the shipment total was about the same. The company said the market was up 11.3 percent during the quarter, which was good news after five quarters of shrinkage. The firm says that 325.3 million units were shipped, which was almost 43 million more than the year ago quarter. The total for the year was 1.13 billion units, which was 5.2 percent less than 2008. The top vendors were Nokia (39 percent), Samsung (21.1 percent), LG (10.4 percent), Sony Ericsson (4.5 percent) and Motorola (3.7 percent).
Strategy Analytics was the third group to chime in. It said shipments were 324 million during the fourth quarter, 10 percent year-over-year growth. This represents, the firm said, the first growth since the third quarter of 2008. The firm expects annualized growth of 8 percent during the current quarter. The top five players were Nokia (38.1 percent market share), Samsung (20.1 percent), LG (10.4 percent), Sony Ericsson (5 percent) and Motorola (4.9 percent).
The consistency in the results, coupled with other pieces of evidence-such as predictions by ABI of explosive growth in the "media tablet" sector inhabited by the iPad and other devices-suggests that the recovery is solid. The mobile industry experienced a tough year or so, as everybody did. But the truth was that things never got nearly as bad as they did in other sectors. The continued innovation and popularity of mobility made it doubtless that a strong rebound would occur once the economy straightened itself out. The economy still is fragile, of course, but the mobile rebound is here.