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.

No Stopping the Mobile Internet Growth

[qi:___3g] By now you all know that despite the spotty coverage and expensive rate plans, I am a big fan of Mobile Internet. Down economy or not, I want my 3G wireless connection. Apparently I’m not the only one. According to a survey of 50,000 wireless customers in the U.S. and five major Western European mobile markets, nearly 71 percent of wireless users are likely to use some kind of wireless data services. These countries collectively have about 200 million mobile data users and more than half expect to increase their mobile data usage. The survey was conducted by Nielsen on behalf of telecom equipment maker, Tellabs. Read More about No Stopping the Mobile Internet Growth

Even Moms Love Mobile Data Cards

OK, that is a bit over the top! Nielsen Mobile came out with a report that points out that there were 13 million mobile data cards in the U.S. at the end of June 2008. Not a big surprise, since wireless carriers in the U.S. are having a blockbuster year as far as mobile Internet revenues are concerned. The GigaOM Team has about seven of them and uses them for business and filing stuff when on the road. Apparently, so do a lot of people. However, Nielsen points out that there is a change in the making.

….Nielsen’s research reveals that the cards are beginning to play an important role in home and personal Internet access, as well. In fact, 43 percent of mobile data card users report they most often use their data card at home, while 15 percent say they typically use the card at work. Additionally, one in five (21 percent) data card subscribers take advantage of ubiquitous access by heading outdoors and 9 percent use their card while commuting.

An easy explanation would be better price packages and higher speed tiers, thanks to newer 3G technologies. Of the nearly 1,300 mobile data card users Nielsen surveyed, more than 99 percent still kept their wired broadband service: 40 percent of card users also have cable broadband and 34 percent also have DSL in their home. That number can jump to 59 percent, giving wired carriers something to think about.

Maybe the wireless guys need to rethink their wireless broadband plans and bring them forward. For phone companies the prospect of being cannibalized by wireless data connections must be scarier than losing them to voice connections. No wonder they started to limit bandwidth transfers on their connections. (Photo courtesy: Novatel Wireless.)