Handset shipments suffered another annual decline in the third quarter but are forecast to rebound in the key final quarter of the year, according to two new analyst reports published this week. Strategy Analytics estimates that global handset shipments reached 291 million units in 3Q09, down 4 percent from 304 million units a year earlier. Separate data from IDC suggested similar trends; the firm said that shipments totalled 287.1 million units worldwide in 3Q09, down 6 percent from a year earlier, but up 5.6 percent from the second quarter. “The mobile phone market is showing the first signs of improvement since the onset of the economic crisis,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst at IDC. “During the third quarter, we saw a number of channels promoting older devices at significantly lower prices. For many, this was enough to spur demand and push volumes higher.” Strategy Analytics forecasts that 300 million handsets will be shipped in 4Q09 – the key quarter for Christmas shopping sales – which would represent a 3 percent increase on the 294 million units shipped in the last quarter of 2008. “We believe this will be the first time the industry has returned to positive growth since Q3 2008, signalling an end to the handset recession after four quarters of decline,” the firm said in a statement. 

Source: Strategy Analytics

In terms of individual vendors, Strategy Analytics said that Nokia shipped 108.5 million handsets worldwide in the third quarter, down 8 percent from 117.8 million units in 3Q08, noting that its growth rate underperformed the industry average for the fifth quarter in a row. It said that second-placed Samsung shipped a record 60.2 million handsets worldwide, up an above-average 16 percent from 51.8 million units a year earlier, while third-placed LG shipped an all-time-high of 31.6 million handsets, up 37 percent. Both Sony Ericsson and Motorola reported declines.