Gartner to Handset Sellers: Beef Up Your Smartphone Offerings

Cell phone sales fell 14.5 percent to 269 million handsets during the first quarter of 2009 from the fourth quarter of 2008, and slumped 8.6 percent year-over-year, research firm Gartner announced Wednesday. Smartphone demand, meanwhile, surged, boosted by the iPhone and other touchscreen devices.

“Much of the smartphone growth during the first quarter of 2009 was driven by touchscreen products, both in midtier and high-end devices,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. Fellow mobile devices research director Carolina Milanesi told the Wall Street Journal that, “Making sure you have a strong smartphone portfolio is going to be very important for the vendors.”

Cell phone sales won’t pick up until the second half of 2010, when Gartner expects them to rise 5-6 percent, according to the newspaper. Although “touch for touch sake drove the midtier space, high-end handsets will require integration around music, e-mail and Internet browsing, according to Gartner.

Worldwide Mobile Terminal Sales to End Users in 1Q09 (Thousands of Units)

Company 1Q09 Sales 1Q09 Market Share (%) 1Q08 Sales 1Q08 Market Share (%)
Nokia 97,398.2 36.2 115,191.8 39.1
Samsung 51,385.4 19.1 42,396.5 14.4
LG 26,546.9 9.9 23,645.8 8.0
Motorola 16,587.3 6.2 29,884.7 10.2
Sony Ericsson 14,470.3 5.4 22,061.0 7.5
Others 62,732.0 23.4 61,103.20 20.8
TOTAL 269,120.1 100.0 294,283.0 100.0

Indeed, smartphones accounted for 13.5 percent of handset sales during the first three months of the year vs. 11 percent in the same period a year earlier, buttressing an earlier Infonetics Research report of growth despite an overall fall in handset demand.

The research may be good news for Dallas-based AT&T (s T). The carrier recently unveiled an ad campaign focusing on smartphones, announcing nearly one-third of its postpaid customers used the handsets.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users in 1Q09 (Thousands of Units)

Company 1Q09 Sales 1Q09 Market Share (%) 1Q08 Sales 1Q08 Market Share (%)
Nokia 14,991.2 41.2 14,588.6 45.1
Research In Motion 7,233.6 19.9 4,311.8 13.3
Apple 3,938.8 10.8 1,725.3 5.3
HTC 1,957.3 5.4 1,276.9 4.0
Fujitsu 1,387.0 3.8 1,317.5 4.1
Others 6,896.4 18.8 9,094.8 28.1
TOTAL 36,404.4 100.0 32,314.9 100.0