IDC: Financial doldrums slowing mobile phone shipments

Average selling prices for mobile phones have already begun to drop while marketing campaigns for Christmas buying go into high gear.

Global mobile phone shipments in the third quarter showed the effects of the worldwide financial crisis, falling significantly from previous quarters, research firm IDC said Thursday.

IDC said mobile device manufacturers shipped 299 million handsets in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30, an increase of 3.2 percent from the same quarter last year, but well below the 20 percent increase that can typically occur as stores stock shelves for holiday sales.

Shipments and revenues for handset vendors were down almost across the board, Ryan Reith, an IDC analyst said in a statement. Even so, Apple reported a successful quarter and Nokia has announced a positive outlook for the entire year despite a tough third quarter, he said.

Average selling prices for mobile phones have already begun to drop, while marketing campaigns for Christmas buying go into high gear, IDC said. The research firm provided no examples.

IDC in September predicted that a total of 1.26 billion handsets would ship for all of 2008, a 10.4 percent increase over 2007.

ABI Research Inc. Thursday also predicted nearly the same number of shipments for 2008, at about 1.27 billion, more than 10.5 percent above 2007.

But ABI had a different take on third-quarter shipments, saying they totalled 8.2 percent more than the same quarter in 2007, compared to IDC's projected 3.2 percent increase from last year. However, ABI did not specify the total units shipped in the quarter, only the percentage of increase. ABI also revised downward its expectations for fourth quarter, from 10.4 percent growth to 7.5 percent growth over the same quarter last year.

Despite slower growth in the overall mobile phone market, smartphones posted strong gains, IDC reported. Although it did not report smartphone results separately from others, the Apple iPhone 3G -- released in the summer-- and the recently released G1, which is powered by Android, are attracting both seasoned and first-time users, IDC noted.

Nokia took the top position again in the third quarter, with shipments greater than the next three vendors' totals combined, IDC noted. Nokia had more than 39 percent of the market share with nearly 118 million units shipped in third quarter; Samsung had 17 percent share with nearly 52 million units shipped; Sony Ericsson had 8.6 percent share with 25.7 million units; Motorola had 8.5 percent share with 25.4 million units; LG Electronics had 7.7 percent share with 23 million units, IDC said.

IDC did not rank Apple or Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, but ABI said Apple's share was 2.2 percent of all third quarter shipments, while RIM's was 2 percent. ABI did not provide absolute shipment numbers, however.

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