I spotted a couple of interesting take-aways within a CNET piece this morning about a state-of-smartphones report released today. These days, given the economics of the day, forecasts and predictions become a bit more, well, unpredictable. Still, market research firm Informa Telecoms & Media gives it a try. Here's my two cents on a few of the talking points:
Talking Point No. 1: Android smartphone sales will outstrip iPhone sales by 2012
Can anyone - given the economic conditions and unclear impact of Washington's stimulus plans - really make an educated prediction about what any industry will look like three years from now? Who's to say what the smartphone market will even look like in three years? Three years ago, there was no chatter about netbooks - and look at the headlines today. I have no doubt that Android will gain some traction in the smartphone arena, just as I have no doubt that Apple will continue to enhance its iPhone/iPod Touch lines in coming years. If Apple cuts a deal with Verizon, as has been rumored, or other carriers, doesn't that potentially change the dynamics? A lot can happen between now and 2012. I'm just saying...
Talking Point No. 2: Smartphone sales surpassed laptop sales for the first time last year.
That's a headline worth noting. As smartphones become more connected and more enabled to do the work of a computer, the necessity of a laptop slips for some. Last year saw the launches of the iPhone 3G, the Blackberry Storm and and the G1, among others - all of which are Web-connected devices that highlight the other things you can do with them, aside from just talking. Some companies, for example, might find some savings by scrapping plans of buying laptops for the sales team and instead equipping opting for iPhones with a salesforce.com app. And, once again, don't discount the impact of the netbook.
Talking Point No. 3: Smartphone sales will be immune to the global economic downturn.
I don't know if I would be bold enough to declare any industry to be immune from the economic forces, but if I had to pick one that might be able to buck the trends, I think smartphones would be a safe bet. The report says smartphones will see "robust growth" of more than 35 percent year over year but that handsets as a whole will decline more than 10 percent. I can't necessarily back those numbers but yes, smartphones are becoming the mainstream handsets, available now in many different shapes, sizes and colors. The manufacturers and the carriers are all trying to one-up each other with new devices pricing specials and so on. Heck, Verizon is having a 2-for-1 sale on Blackberrys. They want the two-year commitments that include a data plan from Day One.
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