iPhone, BlackBerry Help Spark 1Q Mobile Phone Rebound

iPhone and BlackBerry smartphonesIncreased demand for email- and web-enabled smartphones drove the worldwide mobile phone market to a 21.7 percent surge in shipments for the first quarter, a healthy rebound that saw the maker of BlackBerry move into the top five for the first time and Apple’s iPhone double its sales.
But International Data Corporation, IDC, cautions that its findings reflect a double-digit jump from a contraction in the industry a year ago.
Mobile phone vendors shipped 294.9 million units in the first quarter of 2010, compared to 242.4 million units in the first quarter of 2009, when the market declined 16.6 percent as the global economic recession peaked.
“It should be noted that the market’s first-quarter growth, while impressive, is relative to one of the worst quarters in mobile phone industry history (1Q09),” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker. “The market’s growth should not be taken as a proxy for future quarters nor annual growth. In fact, the results essentially match our first quarter projections.”
IDC, the Framingham, Mass.-based research firm, is projecting 11 percent growth in the mobile phone industry for 2010.
One trend that is virtually certain to continue is the growing popularity of smartphones as indicated by the move into the top five by Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of the BlackBerry Curve 8520 and BlackBerry Bold 9700, two of its most popular models in the first quarter.
Apple’s iPhone is also contributing to the surging popularity of smartphones. Apple reported 8.75 million iPhones sold in its quarter ended March 27, representing 131 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. At its current pace, industry analysts say it could break into the top five ranking by year’s end.
With total shipments surpassing those of Motorola by nearly 2 million units, RIM is the only vendor in the top 5 with a “singular focus on smartphones, and as a result, the company enjoys the highest average selling prices within that group,” IDC said.
RIM tied Sony Ericcson for the No. 4 position in IDC’s ranking. RIM shipped 10.6 million units, while Motorola, the No. 2 overall vendor in 2004, shipped 8.5 million units in the first quarter of 2010.
The top five brands are Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics, and RIM and Sony Ericcson (tied).
“The entrance of RIM into the top 5 underscores the sustained smartphone growth trend that is driving the global mobile phone market recovery,” Restivo said. “This is also the first time a vendor has dropped out of the top 5 since the second quarter of 2005, when Sony Ericsson grabbed the number 5 spot from BenQ Siemens.”

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