San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Personal Communications Devices (PCD), the cellular handset marketer/distributor formerly owned by UTStarcom, boosted its worldwide unit and dollar sales at double-digit rates in 2008 and will do so again in 2009 despite the worldwide economic slowdown.
Phil Christopher, president/CEO, told analysts and the media during a briefing at International CES, here.
The company, which handles marketing and distribution functions for multiple handset vendors, increased its 2008 unit sales by about 12 percent to 10 million and its dollar sales by about 25 percent to $2.02 billion, he said. For 2009, Christopher forecast unit growth of 20 percent to 12 million and dollar growth of about 14 percent to $2.3 billion.
PCD is growing in part because it has entered new international markets and has tapped into multiple growth niches, including easy-to-use phones for senior citizens, QWERTY keyboard phones for heavy users of text messaging and email, and ruggedized phones for business and consumers, Christopher said. The company's niche as a “bridge” between multiple Asian manufacturers and carriers has proven popular, he added.
“Carriers don't want to deal with 10 to 15 suppliers,” Christopher explained. “Carriers select their own top three suppliers and go to us for the others.” PCD can also bring the manufacturers' products to market faster than the manufacturers could themselves “because we understand the business,” he added. For one thing, PCD is familiar with each carriers' differing specifications and user-interface requirements, he said. PCD also handles field test and carrier-certification tests for its manufacturer partners, buys inventory from its manufacturer partners, and assumes warranty responsibility and expenses for the phones. In return, PCD gets to use the partners' brand names on the phones it buys.
“We execute like a manufacturer,” Christopher said. “We are like a manufacturer without a factory.”
To keep the momentum going, PCD is targeting three growth areas for 2009: phones for senior citizens, text-messaging phones and ruggedized phones.
In its 2009 product roadmap, PCD will continue to offer HTC-made phones, will offer a “couple” of new Sidekicks for T-Mobile, and plans a second-generation Quickfire multimedia phone for AT&T with touchscreen and slide-out Qwerty keyboard. In the first quarter of 2010, PCD plans new PDA phones using the Microsoft's OS, some Linux-based phones, and products incorporating the next-generation LTE high-speed-data standard.