Cell phone sales are expected to drop by more than eight per cent this year, over last, according to a new IDC thinktank survey.

That’s bad news for the major cell handset makers, who are already feeling a major pinch from sagging sales last year. Motorola, Ericsson and other have already announced production cutbacks and layoffs to cope with the tanking economy. And Sony is reported to be considering cutting itself loose from its stormy marriage with Ericsson.

While the overall cell phone market is expected to shrink by 8.3 per cent this year, IDC notes that the small but stronger ‘converged mobile device’ (smart phone) market will continue to grow, by an estimated 21 per cent.

The overall loss in new handset sales is largely the result of a reaction in the low-end mass market to the economic crisis.

Previous studies showed that, rather than trading up to fancier handsets with more features, people are sticking with the lesser-featured handsets they already have and even cancelling features which they consider less important than the money they’ll save.

Surveys also revealed that cell users on service contracts were considering caning their contracts in favour of pay-as-you-go service, to avoid paying for wasted minutes and unused features.

On the up side, however, the same surveys showed that the vast majorioty of cell users would get rid of their conventional, wired ‘landline’ phones before ditching their cells, if they had to choose.

One Response to Worldwide cell sales sag

  1. Evolving Squid
    Mar 30, 2009

    I’m not surprised.

    Marketing bollocks aside, when it gets down to brass tacks, people want a telephone that lets them phone people in a reasonably efficient way with decent voice and signal quality.

    When they get one they like that meets that criterion, they really do become reluctant to switch. Even Apple will see this with their crappy iPhone… when the allure of the interface wears off and people see it is a mediocre telephone, sales will sag.

    Money is tight right now as well, so people are less inclined to waste it on frivolous toy services.

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