Port Washington, N.Y. — Retail-level sales of cellular handsets with removable memory are surging, but still represent a small share of overall handset sales, The NPD Group found in a survey of cellular purchasers.
In the first quarter of 2006, the percentage of cellular phones sold with removable-memory slots hit 6 percent, up from 2005’s fourth-quarter 5 percent, the third quarter’s 4 percent and the second quarter’s 2 percent. Though the shares are single-digit, they nonetheless represent large gains in the number of handsets sold with memory slots. Sales of memory-card-capable handsets rose more than 250 percent from 567,000 in the second quarter of 2005 to 2 million in the first quarter of this year, NPD said.
Memory cards inserted into the slots can be used to store music, video and photos.
Removable media has moved from mostly high-end smartphones to more mainstream models, said NPD analyst Neil Strother. He noted, “In the past, you'd see this feature available on Palm Treos or Windows Mobile devices, but now removable media is showing up on more affordable phones, like Motorola's E815, LG's VX-8300 and Samsung's A-950.”
In the first quarter, microSD slots dominated in the cellular phone market, NPD said. MicroSD slots were available in almost half of all phones sold with removable-media slots. In second place, miniSD slots were installed in 31 percent of removable-media phones sold in the first quarter.
“The industry expects to see a continued and sustained increase in phones sold with this feature, as manufacturers focus on anticipating consumer demand for more capacity for storing and transferring digital data,” Strother said. “In much the same way that carriers and handset manufacturers introduced text-messaging functionality ahead of mainstream consumer demand, they are now anticipating consumers' potential needs for more media storage.”
“As with any new feature, however, if and or when consumers will actually follow the industry's lead is an open question,” he said.
For its survey, NPD analyzed more than 150,000 completed online consumer research surveys. Surveys are conducted monthly and based on a nationally balanced and demographically-representative sample, then projected to represent the entire population of U.S. consumers, NPD said.