Friday, June 12, 2009

Smart-phones: Silver Lining of Declining Handset Market

The smartphone market is growing very healthily, as expected, 72% year on year. Changing consumer behaviors due to the ongoing global economic downturn is stimulating a renewed focus on smartphones, which analysts say would rule the declining handset market. Analysts expects sales of smartphones to grow 12-15 per cent in 2009. Smartphone offers advance capabilities, which could also be the reason for their raising popularity.

In terms of features, most smartphones support full featured email capabilities with the functionality of a complete personal organizer. Other functionality might include an additional interface such as a miniature QWERTY keyboard, a touch screen or a D-pad, a built-in camera, contact management, an accelerometer, built-in navigation hardware and software, the ability to read business documents in a variety of formats such as PDF and Microsoft Office, media software for playing music, browsing photos and viewing video clips, internet browsers or even just secure access to company mail, such as is provided by a BlackBerry.

One common feature to the majority of the smartphones is a contact list able to store as many contacts as the available memory permits, in contrast to regular phones that has a limit to the maximum number of contacts that can be stored.

The iPhone is drawing increasing competition from entrenched smart-phone makers anxious to emulate the upstart. The most significant of these is Palm's impressive new Pre, which is off to a good start with an estimated 100,000 approximately., so units sold since it was launched on June 6.

Apple's iPhone has become on of the world's most popular smart phones, just two years after entering the cellphone market. Its success has led rival phone makers to respond with formidable touch-screen devices of their own, including Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm and T-Mobile USA's G1 - which runs Google's Android software - and Palm's Pre.

Catching up in gaming segment, the introduction of devices like the iPhone, Android, and N-Gage has spurred domestic and overseas mobile games sales. Games sold through smartphone application storefronts accounted for 15 percent of all mobile games sales in 2008 in North America and Europe.

The innovation of competing devices and storefronts has the potential to boost the sagging mobile games market. Analysts find that growth in the operator-distributed mobile games segment has fallen to 7 percent in 2009, as compared to its peak of over 50 percent throughout 2004 and 2005.

Though it's believed that the new platforms will help grow the mobile games market as a whole, Android and Palm phone are likely to maintain their lead in the smartphone segment in the immediate future.

According to a report. "Whilst Nokia's N-Gage games platform and Google's application store Android Market also have the potential to grow the market for mobile games outside operators' portals".

The Java market continues to earn the largest revenue share in the mobile games industry. Smaller publishers will soon "reduce or abandon" development of games for release through operator-run portals, however, as smartphone platforms offer "a greater share of revenues, a more receptive audience, and a wider array of content."

Besides the game segment, Research In Motion is still by far the top seller of feature-packed smart phones, with a 55.3-per-cent share of the market, according to IT research giant International Data Corporation (IDC), but Apple is in hot pursuit. Whereas, Palm holds 3.9 per cent of the market.