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Asia-Pacific Market Could Save Mobile Data


The global mobile phone handset market went into a tailspin in October and November, which will result in a nearly 5 percent year-over-year decline in unit shipments in Q4. While 2009 is likely to see more stormy economic weather, there are a few rays of sunshine.

"The number of WCDMA and CDMA2000 mobile handsets sold -- currently 39 percent of the total -- is expected to exceed 50 percent in 2009," says ABI Research Asia-Pacific vice president Jake Saunders.

Much of the brunt of the economic downturn will be experienced in the 2G categories. WCDMA handset shipments are projected to grow from 258 million in 2008 to 725 million in 2009. By 2013, more than 67 percent of all mobile phone handsets shipped will be 3G/3G+ capable.

"Another robust segment is smartphones," adds practice director Kevin Burden. "Smartphones captured 14 percent of the 2008 market and are expected to grow throughout the challenging period of 2009 and comprise 31 percent of the market by 2013."

Smartphones are among the most coveted pieces of prosumer electronics.

ABI believes that cellular modems will also be a high growth sector in 2009, driven largely by USB modems which will account for 80 percent of the shipment volume. Market volume is expected to increase by more than 55 percent in the coming year as Asian vendors push forward with low-priced modems.

Mobile operators continue to be creative with broadband plans to entice new users, offering options such as a free month with a modem purchase, as well as daily and weekend plans and per MB fees.

"For as long as operators aggressively price and promote mobile broadband plans, cellular modems will continue to be a hot category with considerable potential in SOHO and SMB segments," concludes Burden.

Frankly, I'm not convinced that the upside for wireless data will reach the U.S. market in particular. Regardless, perhaps the Asia-Pacific market may have additional growth potential in reserve.

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