American consumers are buying 13% fewer mobile phones than a year ago, but revenue from those sales is only down 2% to $2.4 billion because of higher prices, researchers at NPD Group said.
The top handset sellers in the United States for the second calendar quarter of 2008 were Motorola with 21%, Samsung and LG both at 20%, Nokia at 9% despite being the globally dominant seller at more than 40%, with Research In Motion trailing at 7%. Other companies divide the rest of the market share. (NPD does not track enterprise sales.)
NPD’s Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis, said the steep decline from a year ago was only partially anticipated and is caused by the general slumping economy, not by industry factors. “The overall number of units was the lowest we had seen since we began tracking the units in 2005. The severity of the decline was somewhat surprising,” he added.
However, smartphones were 19% of all phones sold to U.S. consumers in the second quarter, up 9% from a year ago. “It’s key these days for carriers to get more advanced handsets to consumers in order to pursue the network services that they’re rolling out,” Rubin said. That wasn’t an issue in the old world of voice-centric phones.
LG and Samsung are gaining market share because those companies acted quickly in response to the recent trend in touchscreen phones, he noted. NPD plans to start tracking touchscreens for the third quarter.
Other phone trends on NPD’s radar screen include alternative operating systems, phones with multiple SIM card slots, flash memory, near-field communications and Wi-Fi.
The current average price of a consumer phone in the United States is $84, NPD found.