Gartner released its global forecast for mobile phones predicting that the milestone of one billion units sold per year will be reached in 2009.
This comprehensive study included detailed forecasts of sales in 62 countries. It was compiled by Gartner's team of more than 20 mobile and wireless analysts based in 12 countries around the globe.
"The world's appetite for mobile phones has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations," said Ben Wood, research vice president for mobile terminals at Gartner. "Mobile phones could go on to be the most common consumer electronics devices on the planet." Gartner estimates there will be 2.6 billion mobile phones in use by the end of 2009.
"The sales volume cannot be attributed to one region in particular. It's a truly global phenomenon," said Carolina Milanesi, principal analyst at Gartner for mobile terminals. "In mature markets like Europe and North America, subscribers are still buying replacement phones. In emerging markets like Brazil and India, new customers are signing up for mobile services at an even faster rate."
Asia/Pacific accounts for most sales: one in every four mobile phones sold this year. In 2009 this will increase to one in three. Ann Liang, Gartner's principal analyst for mobile terminals in the region said, "China and India alone will account for nearly 200 million units in 2007, with the Indian market surpassing China in 2009 to reach 139 million units."
North Americans are still buying the latest models, but the bigger story is in Latin America. Hugues De La Vergne, Gartner's principal analyst for mobile terminals in the Americas, said "Sales nearly doubled in 2004 within Latin America and they will reach 100 million mobile phones a year by 2009. Brazil is the powerhouse of the region, accounting for more than a third of sales this year."
Deeper analysis of the forecast shows that smartphones are the fastest growing category of device. "Smartphone sales broke all records in the first quarter of 2005 and we expect them to double year on year to 2006", said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner.
Despite spectacular growth on all fronts, not everything is rosy. Mr Wood cautioned that "Sales numbers are impressive, but the big names in this industry will have to deliver value as well as volume. We expect the average wholesale price of a mobile phone will decline from US$174 in 2004 to US$161 in 2009. At the same time, phones will keep getting more complex and become ever-more packed with features. Only the sharpest players will survive."