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NPD Finds Good, Bad News For Cellphone Retailers In Q1

Port Washington, N.Y. – Retail-level cellphone sales rose 12 percent in the first quarter to 39 million units compared to the year-ago period, with dollar volume rising 30.4 percent to $3 billion, The NPD Group said.

“Consumers are embracing capabilities such as Bluetooth, removable memory, and music capabilities far ahead of last year,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis.

For many retailers, the bad news was that a growing percentage of those sales occurred in carrier-owned and –branded outlets, NPD found (.) Carrier stores increased their collective share from 60 percent in the first quarter of 2006 to 63 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Sales sizzled at Best Buy and Circuit City locations, where Best Buy posted unit-sales gains of 43 percent for the period, and Circuit City locations posted a 40 percent gain. Circuit’s cellular departments are operated by carrier Verizon.

NPD’s statistics are based on more than 150,000 completed online consumer research surveys conducted each month and exclude corporate purchases.

There were winners and losers among the top five handset suppliers in the U.S., NPD also found. Although the same suppliers remained in the top five compared to the year-ago quarter, their ranks shifted. Motorola increased its share to 35 percent from 30 percent and remained on top, but Nokia’s share dropped from 19 percent to 10 percent.

The first-quarter top five were: Motorola (35 percent), Samsung (17 percent), LG (15 percent), Nokia (10 percent), and Sanyo (4 percent).