Smartphone Sales to Keep Growing

ms09_pho_2h08_chartRecession or not, smartphone sales are expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future, according to Infonetics Research, a market research company. The mobile handset makers had a flat 2008 in terms of revenues — some $156 billion worth of mobile phones were sold,¬†essentially the same as 2007– and 2009 isn’t going to be pretty. Infonetics is forecasting an 8 percent drop in the total number of mobile phones sold, to 1.1 billion worldwide. But they predict that just like 2008, smartphones are going to buck the trend, growing on both a units sold and revenue basis.

This is good news for smartphone makers such as Research in Motion (s RIMM), Apple (s AAPL), Nokia (s NOK) and HTC. By comparison, companies like Motorola (s mot) are going to fall further behind, as they currently have no meaningful way to address the smartphone demand, which Infonetics is predicting will continue growing through 2013.

Symbian is still the top dog in the smartphone operating system market, followed by the BlackBerry, which regained its No. 2 spot after being overtaken by the surge in iPhone units in the third quarter of 2008. What’s driving demand for smartphones? Faster 3G networks. I think it’s the availability of the iPhone, which forced handset makers to embrace a more open web via standards-based web browsers and thus changed the mobile landscape forever.