For the first time since The NPD Group has tracked handset sales, the research firm reports a decline in U.S. phone sales during the first quarter.
NPD said mobile phone handset sales to consumers in the United States reached nearly 31 million units in the first quarter of 2008, which is a 22% decline since the same period a year ago. NPD estimates total first-quarter 2008 consumer sales of nearly $2.7 billion, down from $2.9 billion a year ago.
“Cellular phone service has become a practical necessity in modern life; however, with looming economic concerns on the horizon, many consumers may be holding back on new handset purchases, especially those tied to new prepaid plans,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for NPD, in a statement.
Struggling Motorola maintained its lead in the U.S. market during the first quarter, but its share of unit sales declined from 35% in Q1 2007 to 27% this year. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) improved its ranking, edging out Sanyo as the fifth-largest mobile phone manufacturer based on number of handsets sold in the United States in Q1 2008, researchers said.
Samsung accounted for 18% of units purchased in the first quarter in the United States; LG followed at 17%; Nokia had 8% and RIM with 5%.
Smartphone sales comprised 17% of all mobile phone sales in the first quarter, an increase of 10 percentage points since the same period a year ago. Also this quarter, 79% of phones purchased had Bluetooth technology (up from 65% from the year-ago quarter), and 60% of phones purchased in the first quarter were music-enabled (versus 41% the prior year-ago quarter), according to NPD.