iSuppli: Smartphone shipments declined during first quarter

Smartphone shipments dropped during the first quarter of 2011, marking the first sequential decrease since 2009, according to a new report from iSuppli.

Smartphone shipments dropped during the first quarter of 2011, marking the first sequential decrease in two years, according to a new report from iSuppli.

The smartphone market experienced a 1.5 percent decline from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011. That might not seem like much, but when you account for the fact that is the steepest decline since 2009, it is a bit more telling.

However, the first quarter following the holiday season is always going to see a drop in sales in almost any consumer product market. Additionally, iSuppli seems fairly optimistic about smartphone shipments in 2011 in general. Tina Teng, a senior analyst for wireless communications at iSuppli, said:

The reduction of shipments reflects inventory control efforts in the smart phone market, rather than weakening consumer demand...This decline does not change the IHS iSuppli forecast of 60 percent growth in worldwide smart phone shipments for the entire year of 2011.

The brand that appeared to take the biggest hit was Motorola, which incurred a whopping 16.3 percent drop in shipments during the first quarter. Nokia declined by nearly the same amount with a 14.5 percent decrease and only 24.2 million units shipped in Q1. However, Nokia managed to retain the top spot, but it might not for the next few quarters as the deal with Microsoft could influence buyers to wait on buying Nokia smartphones for the near future.

Despite less-than-enthusiastic expectations for RIM lately, the Canadian smartphone maker beat iSuppli's expectations with a 4.2 percent increase in shipments, particularly because of better sales in regions outside of North America.

However, everyone seemed to fall prey to Apple once again. Although the Cupertino giant only made it to the silver medal spot, it saw a 14.9 percent increase in shipments thanks to the debut of the iPhone 4 with Verizon Wireless. iSuppli attributes that debut with an additional U.S. mobile carrier as also the reason why several other smartphone brands (namely Motorola, Samsung, LG and HTC) didn't do so hot this quarter.

Those numbers could change considerably given the number of Android devices rolling out with these brands this spring. Apple only had the white iPhone 4 as a new debut, and another iOS smartphone isn't expected to be announced until the fall.

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