Mon, Jun 04, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Handset makers turn to Asia as Europe declines

Staff writer, with CNA

Handset manufacturers are increasingly turning to emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region for sales growth amid waning consumer sentiment in Europe, analysts said yesterday.

Huang Chin-ying (黃勤穎), an analyst at the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center, said Western Europe’s sales growth fell to 12.8 percent by volume last year, showing that sales momentum in the region was clearly slowing down.

By comparison, mobile phone unit sales grew 49 percent in North America and 146 percent in the Asia-Pacific region last year. Huang predicted that the annual growth rate in Western Europe would be even lower this year.

Wang Yang (王陽), an analyst at IHS iSuppli Asia Shanghai Ltd, said a growing number of handset makers are increasing shipments to China. He also noted a growing low-end smartphone market there, with Chinese consumers increasingly choosing generic brands or low-cost mobile phones made by local firms such as Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and Xiaomi Technology Co (小米科技), he said.

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp (宏達電) said at its quarterly investor conference in April that its declining market share in the US would likely be offset by strong demand in Asia, especially in China.

However, Lu Chun-kuan (呂俊寬), a senior research analyst at Gartner Taiwan, said that mobile sales in China declined by volume in the first quarter of this year, saying that such an “unexpected decline” had more impact on markets than the “expected” sales drop in Europe.

China is facing a turning point, not only in consumer preferences — with a majority of Chinese now favoring low-end smartphones —- but also in changes in its retail market, factors that the mobile phone market needs to consider, Lu said.

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