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 Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Three consecutive quarters of negative growth have led the Western European mobile phone market into recession. According to IDC's European Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped 53.6 million units in 4Q08, 13.5% lower than the 62 million units shipped in 4Q07. For the full year 2008, vendors shipped 190.5 million units in Western Europe, 5.9% lower than the 202.5 million units shipped in 2007.

"The fourth quarter was the worst quarter ever experienced by phone makers, and a storm of factors led to this," said Francisco Jeronimo, research manager with IDC's European Mobile Devices and Trends service. "A combination of weak end-user demand, currency volatility, and limited credit availability prevented the market from experiencing the usual seasonal increase in shipments. The traditional holiday campaigns and new product launches were not enough to boost sales in comparison with previous years and almost all vendors experienced a significant slump in sales. We expect the first half of 2009 to be very challenging as vendors and distributors grapple with clearing inventory. Should these conditions persist, the mobile phone market may not recover until the middle of 2010."

If there was one highlight in 4Q08 it was that the converged mobile devices segment (commonly referred to as smartphones) grew 25.9% over 4Q07, clearly outpacing the rest of the industry. For full year 2008, converged mobile devices saw growth of 36.1%, representing 17.4% of the total market. Despite the good performance, converged mobile device growth was still not strong enough to support the entire sector.

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Source: Cellular News.