Samsung, LG, RIM Lead Surprising Q1 Handset Shipments

Samsung, LG and BlackBerry maker RIM were the star performers of 2009's first-quarter handset shipment numbers, which exceeded forecasts, reaching 258 million handsets, an ABI Research report says. However, ABI warns that the mobile and wireless industry should still proceed with caution.

Mobile handset shipments exceeded expectations for the first quarter of 2009, with Samsung, LG Electronics and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion leading the industry, according to an ABI Research report.
In a pleasant surprise for an industry that appeared to have been battered by the U.S. recession, handset vendors shipped 258 million units worldwide by the end of the quarter-beating previous forecasts of 253.5 million.
"Green shoots are sprouting," Jake Saunders, an ABI analyst, wrote in the April 24 report.
ABI gently revised its year-end 2009 forecasts from an 8.4 to 8 percent decline, but no one expects the worst to be behind us yet.
"This will not be a V-shaped recovery," Saunders wrote. "The second quarter of 2008 was a fairly strong quarter for handset sales, so handset shipments for [the second quarter of 2009] are going to report a [negative] 10 percent decline year-over-year, but quarter-over-quarter they should show improvement."
Samsung and LG performed well, taking their market shares to 17.8 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.
RIM, "another star performer," ABI said, "raised its share to 3.0 percent, due largely to the success of its BlackBerry Bold."
Apple's market share was just 1.5 percent, although ABI expects some accelerated growth once the iPhone 3G has "one or more siblings" come the second quarter. On April 22, Apple reported the best nonholiday quarter revenue and earnings in its history.
Nokia, on the other hand, is expected to breathe a sigh of relief once it beefs up its touch-screen lineup and gets the Nokia N97 on the market. Its market share for the first quarter was 36.2 percent-despite reporting its worst quarter in more than a decade.
Of Sony Ericsson's showing, with a market share of 5.6 percent, ABI said, "While Sony Ericsson has the Experia smartphone lineup, the firm's exposure to the feature phone segment was squeezed more than other handset sectors." Operators, ABI said, were cooler toward ultralow-cost and feature phones.
"Buyers in the developed world are still concerned about debt and job security," ABI wrote, advising the industry to remain cautious. "Developing economies are expected to take a hit on the credit side, which could have knock-on consequences on credit lines for purchases and stock levels."