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Q1 post-Xmas lull reverses iPhone growth curve

Big names hit by seasonal dip too

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Apple's iPhone shipments plunged during Q1, figures from market watcher Strategy Analytics reveal. But then the handset business as a whole was less successful in the first quarter of 2008 than it was in the previous one.

No great surprise that, given the importance of the Christmas sales period for consumer handset sales. Apple's perhaps more susceptible to the traditional Q1 tail-off than others, given it's coming to the phone market on the back of the standing it has in the consumer electronics market thanks to the iPod family.

Apple shipped 1.7m iPhones globally in Q1 down from 2.3m in Q4 2007. That's a decline of 26.1 per cent. The market as a whole declined 14.2 per cent, falling from 329.1m units in Q4 2007 to 282.3m units in Q1 2008.

SA blamed high European prices - countered now by recent price-cut offers - and limited supply on the drop in iPhone shipments, which ended a two-quarter run of solid growth.

Despite the scale of the dip, Apple's share of the world phone market drop just a tenth of a percentage point to 0.6 per cent.

That's well below even fourth-ranking Sony Ericsson, which took 7.9 per cent of the market, down from 9.4 per cent in Q4 2007. It was displaced by LG, which saw its market share increase sequentially from 7.2 per cent to 8.6 per cent.

In third place, Motorola's decline continued. From 18.4 per cent of the market in Q1 2007, it now commands a share of just 9.7 per cent, the figure falling each quarter through 2007. Samsung, on the other hand saw its share hover just above 14 per cent through 2007, but experienced a big jump in Q1 2008, from Q4 2007's 14.1 per cent to 16.4 per cent.

Market leader Nokia took 40.9 per cent of the market in Q1, up just slightly on Q4 2007's share of 40.6 per cent, itself up 3.7 percentage points on its Q1 2007 share.

Of the top-five vendors, only LG shipped more phones in Q1 than in Q4 2007, and then only 700,000 units more, to 24.4m phones. Samsung shipped the same volume in both quarters: 46.3m. The others all shipped few phones sequentially: Nokia 115.5m, down from 133.5m; Motorola 27.4m, down from 40.9m; and Sony Ericsson 22.3m, down from 30.8m.

Overall, Q1 phone shipments were up 14 per cent year on year - but still a long way off the 44 per cent year-on-year growth seen in Q1 2004, or the 29 per cent growth recorded for Q1 2006.

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