Smartphones Will Treble While Handsets in Trouble, Says Informa

informatm_logo.jpgInforma Telecoms & Media predict that in 2009, total new handset sales will fall 10.1% year on year. Smartphone sales will maintain robust growth, 35.3% year on year - Smartphone penetration will reach 13.5% of new handsets sold.

In 2013, Informa Telecoms & Media forecasts that smartphone penetration will treble to just over 38%

They also predict the move to adopt open source will help the Symbian Foundation maintain its leadership over Android, Linux and Microsoft.

“The smartphone segment is no longer as simple as it was a few years ago”, says Gavin Byrne, Research Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. “Since early 2007 Symbian, Microsoft, Linux and BlackBerry OS have been joined by Apple’s OS X iPhone, Android and recently Palm’s Web OS”.

Changing software platform strategies Openness is a key criterion, while all in the mobile telecoms space now see the revenue potential of applications and services.

Now more than ever, handset vendors must develop strategies to maximize these new revenue streams while reducing costs. Factors like these have led device vendors to alter their software platform strategies, like LG’s recent public declaration of its intention to launch 50 new mobile handsets using Microsoft Windows Mobile. In the past year Motorola, Sony Ericsson and HTC have also significantly modified their approach to the smartphone market. It has also become a growing focus for ODMs and for the operator focused strategies of ZTE and Huawei.

“In 2008, there were almost 162 million smartphones sold, surpassing notebook sales for the first time”, says Byrne. Just over 49% of smartphones sold in 2008 were based on Symbian OS, a significant drop from a near 65% share it enjoyed one year earlier. While this is in large part due to the relatively poor performance of Nokia’s smartphone range, it is also an indication of the popularity enjoyed by competing platforms including Linux, BlackBerry OS, Microsoft Windows Mobile, OS X iPhone and new entrant Android. This underlines the growing challenge that these platforms may present, in the mind of device vendors and operators.”

Developers are key As more and more value moves from device hardware to software, and also to content, developers are becoming increasingly central to the mobile handset value chain.

Platform and applications development are in many cases already reaping the benefits of open source components and approaches, with LiMo Foundation, Android and the Symbian Foundation being the most significant device platforms in market.

“The decision to move the Symbian platform to open source is crucial in maintaining its leadership over Android, Linux and Microsoft”, says Byrne. The growing importance of content development is reflected in the efforts that Apple, Google, Nokia, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Adobe have gone to facilitate development and a route to market, as represented by their application stores.

Impressive growth “In the wider handset market, Informa Telecoms & Media expects that the global recession will cause total new handset sales to fall by 10.1% in volume terms in 2009” adds Byrne.

“However, its effect will not be felt equally across all segments. While demand in the mid tier will fall away during 2009, sales of new smartphones will grow over 30% to 211.2 million units, driven by innovative new devices and operator subsidies designed to promote mobile data consumption, so that by 2013 almost four in every ten handsets sold worldwide will be a smartphone. With impressive growth rates like this, the smartphone market has proved too attractive to companies in adjacent market segments, such as leading notebook vendor, Acer.”

About the report:

Mobile Operating Systems: The impact of open source and importance of user experience