While the upcoming holiday shopping season, which typically kicks off with the day after Thanksgiving traditionally known as "Black Friday", is likely to give most consumer-based industry a little boost, not every firm gets the same kind of boost. A report from the Gartner research firm says that, for smartphones, the boost that can be counted on will be less than normal.
The Gartner study suggests that, not surprisingly, people will be rather cautious in their Christmas shopping this year. A weak economy, increasing joblessness and several other factors combine to make consumers overall more careful in their selection of presents for others. Moreover, there will be a wide variety of items making their case for the customers' cash, and devices like tablets--which commonly have more functionality than a smartphone--will prove to be more attractive than the somewhat limited smartphone.
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Gartner's study further detailed something of an overall shrink in the market for smartphone to begin with, as sales of the devices fell three percent in the third quarter of 2012 as compared to the third quarter of 2011. This represented a drop for the third quarter in a row, though sales of smartphones saw some terrific growth, climbing 47 percent in the same period. Additionally, the market may not have quite so much to worry about, as strong sales come in from China, reporting better than double growth in a year-over-year comparison. Sales went from 78 million the year previously to between 165 and 170 million this year.
Leading the way in global smartphone sales is Samsung, well ahead of perennial favorites Apple and Nokia. Nokia, however, has been on a downhill slide to number seven in the market, where early last year, it held the top slot.
There are several valid conclusions that can be drawn from this information. Smartphones are seeing substantial gains, so they're likely to prove attractive to buyers, especially with phones like the iPhone 5 from Apple and the recently-released Nexus 4 from LG and Google making a huge splash in markets. This could be leading to a flattening in the markets where the holiday shopping bonus typically given to many products is simply distributed throughout the year. With other top-notch products coming into play, that bonus could just be going elsewhere. But it's impossible to discount the frugal shopper effect, as economic conditions cause some to rethink holiday giving and instead focus on other things, like gift cards, food gifts, or homemade fare.
All of these things together add up to worthwhile support for the projection that there won't be a big push in sales for smartphones with the closing of the year, but rather that people will be picking up the devices throughout the year instead. Most any consumer electronics market--especially these days--has some volatility involved, but looking at the smartphone market is proof enough that it's likely to be unusually volatile for some time to come.
Edited by Brooke Neuman