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How mobile handsets are doing

A story on the Barcelona GSM World conference had this interesting summary on the state of the handset market. With our focus on infrastructure we have not written much about handsets over the years, but it’s becoming difficult, especially in the context of the Mobile 2.0 narrative. As I said in a recent interview with the Expanding Horizons magazine: “Mobile networks will provide the key connectivity, especially as we see handsets becoming more advanced.”

Global shipments of handsets had been falling every quarter since the third quarter of 2008, when the global financial crisis erupted, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

But shipments surged by 10 percent in the last three months of 2009, “signaling an end to the industry’s year-long recession,” Strategy Analytics said in a January 29 report.

Smartphones alone grew even faster in the fourth quarter, jumping 30 percent.

Sony Ericsson and Samsung, the world’s second biggest mobile phone maker behind Nokia, have small slices of the smartphone segment, which is dominated by Nokia, iPhone-maker Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM).

Samsung unveiled its new touch-screen handset, the Samsung Wave, on Sunday, as part of its plans to triple its smartphone sales to 18 million units this year.

“This is a new era, the smartphone era,” JK Shin, the head of Samsung’s Electronics mobile business, said at a launch party for the Wave.

“Samsung is committed to making the smartphone era available for everyone. We are committed to making the smartphone era a true democracy for billions of people on all continents in all corners of the world,” Shin said.

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