12/3/2009 11:07:00 AM
Early Christmas present for the industry
Christmas has come early. Retailers are telling us that footfall last week was up massively on previous weeks and on the year before. This is the news that everyone has been praying for. A lot of hope was being pinned on the final quarter of 2009 after a fairly dismal year, which saw people hunkering down and holding onto their existing phones as the credit crunch bit hard.
True, mobiles are now seen by many as being an essential part of their life rather than a luxury item. But that doesn’t mean they are going to cough up for the latest handsets as soon as they come out during a recession.
That said, they still seem prepared to spend a disproportionate amount of what spare income they still have on mobiles. And now it looks as though they are feeling confident to splash out again. Of course, it is Christmas and sales are expected to rise. What is not expected is that it has come two, even three weeks, earlier than usual.
Prepay is selling well, as it usually does at this time of year, together with the cheaper handsets associated with that market segment. But what is really interesting is how well smartphones are selling.
Smartphones mean contracts are being sold – not usually associated with Christmas gifts. The iPhone continues to sell well on O2 despite competition from Orange. That well-known business phone, the BlackBerry, is also flying off the shelf, along with the Samsung Genio, Nokia N97 and the HTC Hero.
This seems to indicate that the much-anticipated rollout of smartphones beyond the high-end buyer is actually happening. Good news for manufacturers, retailers and operators. The challenge will be to ensure the sales boom keeps going right the way up to Christmas and if possible, beyond.