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April 01, 2009

Handset Companies Innovate to Beat Recession

By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Recent research from ABI Research indicates that mobile device vendors are following innovative trends despite the current recession.
In the last quarter, 35 percent of new handsets registered with ABI Research’s (News - Alert) Global Mobile Device Tracking Database (OD-DBHA) were smartphones, up from 6 percent a year ago.

“It is quite remarkable to see mobile handset trends in play,” said ABI Research vice president Jake Saunders. “Despite the recession, there are some really exciting developments taking place right now. Mobile handset innovation is not going to wait for the recession to abate.”
Research practice director Kevin Burden also said, “While mobile operators are still struggling to find viable revenue models from mobile music downloads, handset manufacturers clearly see music playback as de rigueur. 85 percent of handsets logged into our database had mp3 capabilities.”
ABI Research’s Global Mobile Device Tracking Database is also showing some significant trends among mobile manufacturers.
Clamshell device form factors are still popular with the manufacturers with about 25 percent of new devices registered with the database being clamshells. Also, slider-type handsets are considered as an exciting design opportunity within the manufacturers’ design labs, with 35 percent new registrations.
Handset manufacturers are substantially increasing the number of Wireless Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA)-capable handset models in their portfolios. The number of WCDMA-capable handset models in their portfolios has gone up to 85 percent from 35 percent year over year. This is despite a whopping Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM)-based handsets sales of 713 million in 2008.
Memory is also on the top of mobile manufacturer’s radar. Mobile producers are giving end-users as much memory flexibility as possible. External memory ports have evolved from Mini to the Micro format. Standard Definition (SD), with 55 percent new registration, is seen as a clear favorite.
Global Positioning System (GPS) is increasingly becoming a must have feature for smartphones (35 percent YoY) and other phone categories (15 percent YoY).
While mobile operators still struggle to find viable revenue models from mobile music downloads, handset manufacturers find music playback as essential. This is clear from the fact that about 85 percent of the handsets logged into ABI Research’s database had mp3 capabilities.
Also 50 percent of the handset models released in the current quarter include a 4 Megapixel (or higher) camera, with some popular models like Sony-Ericsson (News - Alert) Idou supporting a whopping 12 MP.

Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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