While cellphone shipments and subscription numbers have held up relatively well during the global recession, the outlook is more tumultuous for the mobile industry.

In-Stat forecasts that both handset sales and subscriptions will take a hit this year.

Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst, said that subscriptions, however, are expected to weather the financial crisis better than handset shipments.

"People that are unemployed are less likely to replace their cellphones, and businesses will not pay for cellphone subscriptions for employees they’ve let go," he said.

"Even those with existing subscriptions are more willing to ‘make do’ with their existing handsets.

"As the wireless industry matures, replacement handsets make up three-quarters of handset sales; handset sales are now particularly vulnerable to economic contraction."

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  • After experiencing a 19.3 per cent growth in subscriptions in 2008, subscription growth will fall by more than half to 8.9 per cent in 2009 and by 6.3 per cent in 2010.
  • Worldwide, In-Stat is forecasting a 20.5 per cent drop in handset shipments for 2009 compared to 2008.
  • It will take until 2011 for shipments to regain robust growth, a forecasted 9.6 per cent increase.
  • Middle East and Africa will have 75.2 million WCDMA/HSPA/HSPA+ subscriptions by 2013.
  • SC-SCDMA subscriptions in Asia Pacific will rise more than ten-fold between 2009 and 2013.

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