Nokia, Samsung, LG Lead a Recession-Free Handset Market: Report

Nokia, as well as Chinese manufacturers ZTE and Huawei, put in strong fourth-quarter 2009 performances, encouraging research firm iSuppli to announce that the cell phone industry was out of the recession and has a strong 2010 ahead.

The cell phone industry has declared an end to its recession, following strong fourth-quarter 2009 performances and a promising first-quarter 2010, iSuppli said in an April 27 report.
The research firm described cell phones as a "resilient performer in an otherwise moribund world economy." While overall 2009 shipments were down from 2008, the fourth quarter gained 15.5 percent over third-quarter shipments, and iSuppli is forecasting a 2010 total of 1.3 billion units, up from 2009's 1.2 billion.
"Given the recovery of the market in the final quarter of 2009, and with Europe, Latin America and the Middle East/Africa regions doing exceptionally well during the period, the recession can be said to be officially over for the cell phone industry," said Tina Teng, an iSuppli senior analyst, in a statement. "The continued growth this year of total handsets - up a projected 11.3 percent to 1.3 billion units - further bolsters such a view."
Total handset shipments for the fourth quarter totaled approximately 257.6 million units, with the top five players accounting for 77 percent of the market. However, it was a few lower-rung vendors from the Asian market that most surprised.
ZTE - which analysts originally mentioned as a vendor that could possibly benefit from purchasing Palm - made its way into fifth position during the fourth quarter, managing a growth of 77 percent to secure 4 percent of overall market.
Huawei, another Chinese manufacturer - and also one thrown into the Palm suitor pile - rose to seventh position, following an exceptional 82.4 percent growth spurt in the fourth quarter.
"Together, the two Chinese companies indicate the strong momentum occurring in the emerging market as well as an increasing presence in Europe on their part with key operators," iSuppli stated in the report.
Leading the market, as usual, was Nokia, which whipped up 126.9 million handsets during the quarter, for a 37.9 percent market share. Second-place Samsung - which introduced its own mobile operating system, Bada, at the start of the year - secured 20.6 percent of the market.
Third place LG, with its stated hopes for a top-two spot by 2012, held 10.1 percent market share, followed by Sony Ericsson, with a 4.4 percent share.
Going forward, iSuppli expects to handset totals head consistently upward, hitting 1.4 billion units by 2011, and on to 1.6 billion by 2014.
It additionally expects 2010 to be a great year for smartphones, forecasting a finish for 2010 of 35.5 percent growth.
"Smartphone growth will be driven by a number of promising developments," states the report, "including the introduction of entry-level smartphones, enthusiasm from vendors across the mobile phone and PC industries, the prevalence of 3G network deployments and the promotion of data-centric services in mature markets."
Potentially helping the cause, Nokia, which holds a strong share of the smartphone market, touch has little penetration in the touch-screen space, worked to rectify this on April 27, introducing the N8, the first smartphone with the updated Symbian 3 operating system.