Decreasing handset sales in Western Europe
The analyst firm said the decline was the first it has noted in the regionsince it began tracking the mobile devices market in 2001.
A partial explanation for this slowdown is that operators in Western Europe havebeen pushing sales of higher end devices by offering higher subsidies and longercontracts, with many now running at 18 months or two years. But the strategy isnow having a negative impact on handset replacement cycles. This pressure isbeing compounded by the credit crunch, which means typical high end handsetbuyers are instead opting for cheaper or free devices from the mid tier whenupgrade time comes around.
Not all world regions are equally affected by the economic slowdown: inQ1/2008, 114.4 million mobile devices were sold in the Asia Pacific region,representing a 26.6% increase over the Q1/2007. Eastern Europe, the Middle Eastand Africa region notched up a 25.8% increase to hit 56.4 million units, whileLatin America increased 28.4% to 32.5 million units.
Gartner said 2008 worldwide unit sales will continue to rise by 10%-15%, drivenmainly by booming emerging markets, but the value of the market will be lowerthan it expected in December due to the current economic slowdown and higherfuel costs that will force some customers in developed markets to delay phonepurchases. Already in the Q1/2008, worldwide sales of mobile phones reached294.3 million units, a 13.6% increase from sales last year.
Gartner also published sales figures by handset vendor: