The mobile phone market took a serious hit in the second half of last year, as the economy spiralled downwards and many people cut back on upgrading their phones, according to new figures from ABI Research.
ABI's Mobile Devices Market Sizing and Share report found that the first half of 2008 saw healthy year-on-year growth of around 14 per cent, but that the second half presented an entirely different picture. Growth slowed to eight per cent in the third quarter, and then tumbled to a 10 per cent decline in the final three months of 2008.
"Sheer fear sapped the confidence of consumers, enterprises and corporate users across the board," said Jake Saunders, vice president of ABI Research for Asia-Pacific.
"As a result, 2008 signed out the year with 1.21 billion handsets shipped for an annual growth of 5.4 per cent. Just a year ago we had 16-plus per cent."
Nokia managed to wrestle a further 1.8 per cent of the market from its competitors over the course of the year to reach a total of 38.6 per cent.
Samsung saw the biggest growth, at 2.7 per cent, further solidifying its position in second place with 16.2 per cent of the market. LG enjoyed success in the US, improving its share by 1.5 per cent to 8.3 per cent.
"While these three manufacturers dominate the global market, it probably would not come as a surprise to many that Research in Motion (BlackBerry) and Apple (iPhone) boldly moved up in the market share stakes with growth of 0.9 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively," said Kevin Burden, practice director for mobile devices at ABI Research.
"Despite the tough economic climate, these two players are likely to continue their march to the consumer centre stage, but in a way that does not drop their handset average selling prices to bargain-basement levels.
"HTC was late entering the consumer smartphone market with the Android-based G1, but the vendor has significant contracts in place - such as with T-Mobile - which should play to its advantage in 2009."
Motorola and Sony Ericsson fared less well during the period, according to the report, suffering market share losses of 5.1 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.
"Sharp revisions to country-by-country economic conditions in the space of just three months will likely mean that a year-on-year handset shipment contraction of between negative five and 10 per cent is becoming a distinct possibility," said Saunders.
"What is certain is that handset vendors will be trying to convince everyone that they should own a smartphone. Welcome to the year of the smartphone."
This is reinforced by a recent report from analyst firm Gartner, which looked at eight key mobile technologies that it believes will drive the market forward in 2009.
The technologies are Bluetooth 3.0, mobile user interfaces, location sensing, 802.11n, new displays, the mobile web, mobile broadband and near-field communication, most of which fit into the smartphone design model.
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