Mobile handset market to have strong finish to 2008

Big players' launches and reduced complexity will add to stronger device sales

A new report by ABI Research predicts that some impressive mobile phone product launches between now and late 2008 will help the world’s mobile handset markets close out the year with strong sales.

Explained ABI research director Kevin Burden, “2008 should still be a very good year for the global mobile phone market. While Q2 performance figures are still preliminary until finalised at the end of July, early indications do not point to an aggressively weak quarter. Historically, the second half of the year has always outperformed the first, and despite nearly global economic problems, a second half lift is still expected, although likely lower than the near 20% increase the worldwide market has seen in recent years.”

Apple’s 3G iPhone and the imminent new BlackBerry models will be at the vanguard of driving sales and these will likely be joined by other handset vendors’ products aiming to compete  for both market and mind share. ABI believes that such 'iconic' models generate a lot of interest around the handset industry and get consumers thinking about replacement. It also says that one of the strongest drivers for new handset adoption is the design trend over the last two years towards greater simplicity.

“A lot of advanced technologies and applications have been built into phones,” added Burden, “but there have often been technical or ease-of-use barriers that prevented wide adoption. The trend now is about making better use of what we have rather than introducing a flood of new services and network features. That’s going to go a long way towards ensuring users’ acceptance of new phones and new applications.”

ABI cautioned though that many usability issues will need to be progressively worked out as the industry increasingly moves towards standardised operating systems. Proprietary real-time operating systems can be painful to manage for operators as well as for users. “Open” operating systems will likely continue to migrate down phone vendors’ product lines, increasing the penetration of devices using standardised and predictable platforms and boosting overall ease of use.

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