RPT-Smartphone competition to bite in 2010 after Q4 boom

(Repeating to correct spelling of competition in headline)

* Q4 smartphones sales up 30 pct y/y-Strategy Analytics

* Nokia leads market volumes, ahead of RIM and Apple

* competition to increase further in 2010

By Tarmo Virki, European technology correspondent

HELSINKI, Feb 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Booming demand for new, cheaper
smartphones helped handset market to recover late last year, but
rivalry for a piece of this lucrative market will turn fierce in
2010 as many new vendors are entering the market.

“The smartphone market will become ultra competitive in
2010, said analyst Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics.

“The smartphone wars will be good news for consumers, but
the fierce competition will inevitably place downward pressure
on vendors’ pricing and margins,” he said.

South Korean firms Samsung Electronics (005930.KS: ) and LG
Electronics (066570.KS: ), the world’s No. 2 and No. 3 handset
vendors, are planning to sharply increase their very low
smartphone sales, while new players like Huawei [HWT.UL] and
Dell (DELL.O: ) are strengthening their offerings.

HTC (2498.TW: ), the world’s No. 4 smartphone brand, said last
week it will be one of the first to suffer from increasing
competition when it forecasting a decline in gross profit margin
in the first quarter of 2010. [ID:nTOE60P07U]

Research firm Strategy Analytics said on Monday the
smartphone market grew 30 percent year-on-year in the December
quarter to 53 million phones, highest ever.

Finland’s Nokia (NOK1V.HE: ) — which continues to sell more
smartphones than its two closest rivals RIM (RIMM.O: )(RIM.TO: ) and
Apple (AAPL.O: ) together — shipped 20.8 million smartphones in
the December quarter, up 38 percent from a year ago.

An improving position in the smartphone market — helped by
messaging phones like E71 and E72 — lifted Nokia’s sales and
profits in the December quarter above analysts forecasts,
sending its shares soaring last week. [ID:nLDE60Q18A]

Nokia’s average smartphone prices dipped to 186 euros ($261)
from 190 euros in the third quarter.
Blackberry maker RIM shipped 10.7 million smartphones in the
December quarter, remaining comfortably ahead of Apple’s 8.7
million iPhones, Strategy Analytics said.

“RIM continues to expand its international footprint beyond
the core territory of North America deeper into Western Europe
and parts of Asia,” the research firm said.

Money

(Editing by David Cowell)

RPT-Smartphone competition to bite in 2010 after Q4 boom