Handset Industry | 2008 Wrap-up, Potential and Challenges for 2009

As the year 2008 is about to conclude, we can see not that good atmosphere for Mobile Phone manufacturers. Consequently, one can easily anticipate sales going down in year 2009 as customers will be looking for more value than of high priced gadgets. We also saw many markets, globally, maturing into saturated industries, mobile handsets may see a significant change in terms of functionality.

We can expect manufacturers cutting down their product range in order to avoid market segments where they are not earning enough profits; though we can’t deny the chances of high end flagship devices from all manufacturers. Furthermore, we can expect phones coming with bunch of functions, meaning that all in one devices with mid-priced tag.

With changing economics dynamics, globally, manufactures will want to see their all products as success – we may expect every model coming into market keenly designed with tons of features packed into little devices.

We can expect 10 megapixel camera phones (for only high priced phone) along with GPS and WLAN connectivity for most of mid-ranged phones will start coming. Though in Pakistan we have limited WiFi coverage throughout, but we have started seeing few tech enthusiasts browsing on their phones through WLAN, they will see more companions next year.

With increase of Social networking sites and web browsing usage on mobile phones, we may expect severe enhancements in applications and the input procedures.



Finnish Mobile Phone Manufacturer looks rolling and rolling new phones. However, in 2008 their main flagship device N96, despite all the hype created, turned out to be a same machine as of N95, but just additional memory and TV tuner support (that don’t work in Pakistan anyway).

Early next year, most probably in first quarter, we should be getting Nokia N97, second touch-screen phone by Nokia after 5800 XpressMusic. Though Nokia got late in getting into touch-screen market, but Nokia is hoping N97 will turn as a big hit.

We know that Nokia competes at all levels of handset market, and maybe it sells low-priced phones at most. For the purpose, we may see Nokia bringing in low end phones with information services and email compatibility by default in these phones.

One can easily anticipate that smartphones sales will drop during 2009; this is still an important market. Nokia will face tough competition from Android, Windows Mobile and whatever Apple has up its sleeve.
Expect to see a touchscreen replacement for the E90 in first quarter, and perhaps also an upgrade to the existing N96 (perhaps the N96i) in the first half of the year.

sony-ericsson-logoSony Ericsson

We know that Sony Ericsson used to make fewer but featured packed handsets when the company was merged seven years back. It was easy for customers to figure out their match in handsets, but lately, Sony Ericsson range has proliferated to the point where it is a complete mess.

Sony Ericsson knows the situation and has acknowledged it. They are planning to slim the product range down by 20%.

With plenty of walkman phones, in fact 28 of them, Sony Ericsson lacks in high end phones.

Despite few successes, 2009 is likely to be a very bad year for Sony Ericsson. Some people are even questioning if this joint venture will survive.


Motorola, for a long time now, seemed on the edge of collapse – due to limited number of products and new models coming into market. Motorola’s recent losses have been so big that many analysts would anticipate that Motorola would be shutting down their mobile phone business completely.

We heard rumors that Motorola would split the company and handsets would come as a separate department, but company’s current economic conditions are confining them doing so.

We hope that Motorola will not give it up so easily, as it is investing heavy time and effort on developing Android handsets for the second half of 2009, and some of the rumored phone designs for next year show a radical departure in style and function.


Samsung remained strong during 2008 where it made efforts to make its range less confusing especially with new naming conventions.

We saw some great models from Samsung in 2008, such as Guru Range, the Omnia and Soul.
I see the main problem with Samsung is its brand image. Let’s take Omnia as an example, it’s a great phone but it is no way near to iPhone when it comes to buzz in market. We anticipate that Samsung will work more on image in 2009 to

create hype and global media campaigns.


Despite having a good 2008, there could be some problems for LG in 2009. LG’s market share is largely based on mid and low-ranged fashion phones in Pakistan, which could be hit by poor market conditions.

LG’s efforts in the smartphone market are almost zero, but maybe we will see an Android handset later in 2009.

rim-logoResearch in Motion (BlackBerry)

Blackberry came up with 9500 Storm that received mixed feedback from markets. RIM also introduced their low end handsets in the Curve and Pearl ranges, plus the 8220 Flip.

We know that Blackberry has no direct competition from anyone, but we may see some competition coming into the way from Microsoft and their push email support for Microsoft Exchange servers. Though, Microsoft does not produce handsets, but companies like Nokia and other manufacturers may come across to give tough time to Blackberry. Though, Blackberry is very well placed in corporate market, and it won’t be an easy job for emerging push email solutions from Nokia or other companies to challenge RIM.


The iPhone 3G was nothing but just additional 3G and GPS addition in original iPhone plus a new Applications Store for buying and downloading software. We are not sure if Apple can sustain with this device for next year too, obviously its lovers are waiting for something more from Apple in 2009, especially when it comes to the relatively poor camera.

We also heard rumors of “iPhone Nano” due next year – basically a very similar concept to the existing phone, only a lot smaller.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK