Gartner: Global mobile phone sales will rise 11 per cent in '08

Emerging market growth could offset slower sales in saturated markets

Gartner is projecting 11 per cent growth in global sales of mobile phones and related devices in 2008, citing healthy sales in the first half of the year.

The projection means that 1.28 billion phones will be sold this year, up from 1.15 billion sold in 2007, Gartner said in a statement.

Part of the projection is based on healthy first and second quarter results that have been noted by other analysts already. Gartner said it expects final numbers will show that between 300 million and 305 million units were sold in the second quarter that ended June 30, an increase of about 15 per cent over the same quarter in 2007. Two other analyst firms, IDC and ABI Research, reported comparable numbers last week.

Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner analyst based in the United Kingdom, said she expects the third quarter numbers to be higher than the second quarter "but only moderately" since both Motorola and LG have warned of a drop in sales.

Milanesi and other analysts have been concerned mobile phone sales could slip because of a global economic slowdown. Some regions are expected to see a decline by the end of the year, including western Europe, Japan and North America, where sales have reached a saturation level, she said.

Emerging markets will make the difference, she noted. In the Asia/Pacific region, sales for the full year could be 18 per cent higher than in 2007, while sales in Japan could drop 9 per cent compared to 2007 and western Europe could see a drop of 1.5 per cent year over year. North America should see modest growth of 5 per cent, she said.

In coming months, Milanesi predicts that established vendors will consolidate, while new vendors such as Apple will find ways to differentiate themselves.

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