NPD Group: Smartphone Sales Climb 47 Percent In Q2

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Smartphone sales continued their upward motion in the second quarter of 2009, out-packing the growth of all other types of mobile devices, according to recent research from the NPD Group.

Smartphone sales reached 28 percent of overall consumer purchases, a 47 percent increase from the year before, the NPD Group found.

But despite smartphone sales' massive growth, it was feature phones that continued to dominate the market, despite a small dip in sales.

Sales of new feature phones fell 5 percent in the quarter, but still made up 72 percent of new handset sales in Q2.

NPD Group chalked smartphone's strong performance to the allure of the mobile Web and attractive device pricing models.

"Despite their ties to pricey data plans, the rich Internet access capabilities of smartphones are attracting customers wooed by lower device prices," Ross Rubin, NPD Group director of industry analysis, said in a statement.

Overall, handset sales volume was up 14 percent year over year in the second quarter, with sales revenue increasing 18 percent, NPD Group found. The sales volume increased despite a 4 percent jump in the average sale price of a mobile phone to $87.

The top selling mobile devices in Q2, according to NPD Group's findings, were the LG enV2 and the Samsung Rant for feature phones and the Apple iPhone 3G and Research In Motion (RIM) Ltd.'s BlackBerry Curve for smartphones.

Along with smartphone sales increasing dramatically in the second quarter, Wi-Fi capability in mobile devices increased three-fold since last year, with 20 percent of all new mobile devices coming equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity. Additionally, touch-screen displays on both feature and smartphones saw tremendous growth since 2008, with 26 percent of all new mobile devices purchased in Q2 featuring a touch-screen. Meanwhile, 35 percent of handsets sold featured a physical QWERTY keyboard, the NPD Group found.

"Feature phones are taking on more of the physical characteristics of smartphones, and often offer greater exposure to carrier services," Rubin said in the statement. "Although their user interfaces continue to improve, the depth of their applications generally lags behind those of smartphones. With the price gap between smartphones and feature phones narrowing, to remain competitive feature phones need to develop a better Web experience, drive utility via widgets, and sidestep the applications arms race."

The NPD Group's findings are on par with a recent study by Gartner that found smartphone sales were up 27 percent in the second quarter, with smartphones single-handedly keeping the mobile phone market from a nosedive.

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