The latest figures from IDC suggest that mobile phone shipments have fallen by almost 16 per cent, thanks to a weak market.
The analysis firm's latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker found that vendors shipped a total of 244.8 million handsets in the first quarter of this year, approximately 15.8 per cent fewer than in the same period in 2008.
IDC put much of the blame for the fall on the worldwide recession, a factor oft-cited in current financial reports.
"That the worldwide mobile phone market started off 2009 with a year-over-year decline highlights just how much the economic recession has affected all industries, including the wireless market," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's mobile devices technology and trends team.
"The market continues to adapt to the new economic reality, with vendors and retailers exercising caution to remain profitable. In some cases, this has meant holding less inventory or even reducing headcount.
"Fortunately, new features and demand for phones will help the market resist the financial pressure. We expect to see further year-over-year declines worldwide, even as some regions show signs of improvement."
The smartphone sector fared better, however, gaining four per cent against the same period last year. IDC said that mobile operator pricing in this area helped it to stay in the black.
"Creativity appears to be the key to success for large mobile operators during this tough time, as changes to business practices from past years have become necessary," explained Ryan Reith, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Tracker.
"Some of the big operators in mature markets have shifted product portfolios, and some have smartphones accounting for as much as 50 per cent of the entire handset offering.
"We believe this strategy will continue, along with an increase in devices that are media and messaging centric, to help operators maintain revenues."
Some firms fared better than others, according to the report. Nokia saw its shipment volumes dip below the 100 million unit mark for the first time in two years, while LG was singled out for its predicted double-digit growth plans. Motorola was praised for "showing signs of improvement."
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