Worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 314.7 million units in Q4, a 4.6 per cent decline from Q4 2007. Analyst Gartner said handset manufacturers continued to struggle against low consumer confidence in both emerging and mature markets.
The top five mobile phone vendors all experienced a decline in sales in Q4. For the year, handset shipments surpassed 1.22 billion units, a six per cent increase on 2007 sales.
Sales into the partner channels reached 297.3 million in Q4, while total sales were just over of 314.7 million units – the biggest difference recorded since Gartner started measuring the market in 2001. Gartner claimed low consumer confidence was forcing distributors and retailers to limit the volume they hold in stock.
Gartner research director for mobile devices Carolina Milanesi said: “Efforts to reduce inventory will intensify in the first half of 2009. In the second half of the year, the channel will have to start re-stocking and this will help sell in volumes. This will not mark the start of a market recovery – we do not expect demand to stabilise before 2010.
“Longer replacement cycles in Western Europe and a very stagnant market in Japan affected sales from the start of the year. Other regions, such as Asia-Pacific and Africa, were able to sustain growth as the economic downturn was limited to mature markets in the first half of 2008.
“From Q3 2008, it was clear the recession had spread to emerging markets. Sales rapidly deteriorated, making 2008 a challenging year for the entire industry.”