The earnings reports of most of the big public technology companies for Q2 2009 were a lot like "confessionals," as my colleague Larry Dignan likes to say. Most segments of the tech industry are struggling through lower sales and an uncertain forecast for the rest of 2009.
One of tech's few bright spots is smartphones. Gartner reported that worldwide mobile phone unit sales were down 6 per cent in Q2 2009 (compared to Q2 2008), but smartphone unit sales were up 27% for the same period.
Meanwhile, IDC reported that the worldwide mobile phone unit sales were down a steeper 10.8% in Q2 compared to Q2 2008. And while IDC also found strength in smartphones, the analyst house noted that competition was fierce and a price war had broken out:
"This demand for high-end mobile phones has created a price war among large mobile operators and handset vendors. Apple's price cut on the iPhone 3G reflects a trend we expect to continue in the upcoming quarters, and one that will effectively maintain competitive pricing within mature markets."
Another interesting part of the IDC report was that it listed the top-selling smartphones. In the U.S. market, these were the top 10:
It's not surprising to see BlackBerry and Apple dominating the top six slots since those two have grabbed most of the attention of U.S. buyers. It's also interesting to note that the Curve and the Pearl are available from nearly all of the U.S. cellular carriers while the iPhone is still currently limited to just AT&T.
HTC also made a strong showing with its original Android phone (G1) and its two Windows Mobile phones (Touch Pro and Touch Diamond) and Palm Pre made the list despite the fact that it didn't arrive until June 6.
Notice the companies that are missing from the top smartphones list: Nokia, Samsung, and Motorola. All three are expected to make a better showing in the second half of the year with new devices, but the pressure definitely got turned up a notch in Q2 after iPhone and BlackBerry both registered solid marketshare gains.
Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi also recently reported that he expects the iPhone to record sales of 20 million units in 2009. He sees that growing to 50 million units by 2011, due to general smartphone market growth, Apple expanding to more carriers and more countries, and the iPhone arriving in China.