A handful of new cellphones launched here at International CES will enter a market expected by many analysts and vendors to post a factory-level unit-sales decline following a year of slow or no growth in 2008.
Market research and consulting company IDC estimates factory-level unit sales in the U.S. declined 0.3 percent in 2008, marking the first drop since 2001, when sales fell about 5 percent. In 2009, however, the forecast decline jumps to 8.7 percent to exceed 2001's percentage drop, causing U.S. sell-in to shrink more in absolute numbers than it did in 2001, when the market was smaller, said IDC analyst Ramon Llamas.
"In 2009, we'll feel the full effects of unemployment, less disposable income and tighter budgets by consumers and enterprises," he said. With less disposable income available and other expenses competing for attention, IDC said, "consumers may choose to hold on to their current devices rather than replace or upgrade them at the next possible opportunity, usually when a service contract expires.
At CES, at least one new smartphone, an HTC model, will debut along with a handful of other phones and wireless devices. Here's what attendees will find:
Clarity: The Plantronics division is brining its C900 unlocked GSM phone designed for older people. The $269 phone, available at www.clarityproducts.com and the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, features 20-decibel amplification, one-touch help button to contact a friend or family member, four large buttons on the outside, a sliding dialing keypad with 12 large buttons and large back-lit display with oversized text. Clarity is in discussions with other retailers to carry the product.
Clearwire: The joint venture, which includes Sprint and cable operators, plans to demonstrate its Clear-branded mobile WiMAX service, which is available in Baltimore and downloads data at an average speed of 2Mbps to 4Mbps. The company plans to launch in other markets across the country throughout 2009.
HTC: The S743 smartphone, based on the Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard OS, will debut as an unlocked model with quadband GSM/EDGE operation and 850/1,900MHz W-CDMA/HSDPA operation up to 7.2Mbps peak to the phone. The phone features a slide-from-the side QWERTY keyboard that automatically rotates from portrait to landscape mode, 12-key front-dialing keypad, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, assisted GPS, fixed-focus 3.2-megapixel camera, MicroSD card slot and 2.4-inch QVGA screen. It supports POP3 and IMAP4 email and Exchange email. Pricing and ship dates were unavailable.
Nokia: The Nokia 7510, a quadband GSM/EDGE flip phone intended for carrier T-Mobile USA, features hidden front LEDs that shine through the flip-up cover when a call comes in. The flip cover is interchangeable and available in different colors, and it opens automatically via a push-to-open side key.
Media playback options include MPEG-4 video and audio in the MP-3, MP-4, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA and RealAudio codecs. It comes with FM stereo radio with RDS (Radio Data System). Media can be stores on a MicroSD card with up to 8GB of capacity.
Qualcomm: The company plans to demo its Snapdragon chip, which boosts the processing power and battery life of wireless phones and wireless data devices while delivering wireless broadband access.
Snapdragon accesses multiple 3G cellular networks and also incorporates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It also includes a 1GHz ARM microprocessor and DSP to allow manufacturers to build a mobile computing device. At CES, a number of Snapdragon devices will be demonstrated using a variety of operating systems, including Windows Mobile 6.1, the company said.
Consumer electronics companies such as Acer, ASUS International, HTC, Inventec, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Toshiba are designing more than 30 Snapdragon-based products, which are expected to begin shipping during the first half of 2009, Qualcomm said.
Samsung: The handheld battery-operated MBP200 pico projector connects to mobile phones and laptops to project video content, digital still images, and Microsoft Office and PDF files up to 50 inches in size onto a projection screen or wall. It also projects images down to 8.5 by 11 inches onto a standard sheet of paper. Content stored on a MicroSD card can also be projected. It doubles as a portable MP3/PMP (portable media player) that plays back music and video files and digital images.
Price, ship date and distribution channels were not finalized at press time, but the device will be sold on www.samsungmobileusa.com/accessories.