Gartner Sees Better TImes Ahead for Smartphones in 2010

Gartner says smartphone sales didn’t quite meet its expectations in 2009, even though the high-end handsets continue to account for a growing percentage of overall mobile-phone sales.

In 2013, according to Gartner, more than every third phone sold will be a smartphone. The market-research firm says the biggest threat to that forecast is represented by wireless operators, which could inhibit sales if they persist in packaging smartphones with flat-rate data plans that put the handsets beyond the financial means of many prospective buyers.

For 2009 — which might go down as annus horribilis in so many respects — sales of mobile phones to consumers are expected to drop less than one percent and total about 1.2 billion units. Gartner predicts that mobile-phone sales will start to grow again, at about 9 percent, in 2010, with average sales prices per unit dropping approximately $2 from 2009 levels. Average sales prices of mobile phones dropped about $10 per unit in 2009.

I haven’t seen Gartner’s base assumptions for growth across global markets, so I’ll refrain from commenting in detail. That said, I’m skeptical of a sharp rebound in market growth, especially one that won’t be goosed by lower prices.

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