Rebounding from a market contraction in the first quarter of 2009, mobile phone shipments surged by 21.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010, according to market research firm IDC. Increased demand for smartphones played a big role in overall mobile phone performance, with vendors shipping 249.9 million units in Q1 of this year compared to 242.4 million in Q1 2009.
The growing demand for smartphones also helped Research In Motion (RIM) wiggle its way into the top 5 vendor rankings for the first time ever. RIM jumped ahead of Motorola to tie Sony Ericsson for the No. 4 spot in IDC's 1Q10 vendor rankings.
"The entrance of RIM into the top 5 underscores the sustained smartphone growth trend that is driving the global mobile phone market recovery," noted Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker. "This is also the first time a vendor has dropped out of the top 5 since the second quarter of 2005, when Sony Ericsson grabbed the number 5 spot from BenQ Siemens."
IDC predicts the worldwide mobile phone market rebound will last throughout 2010, though not necessarily at the same clip as the first quarter performance.
"We are still expecting growth of 11 percent for 2010," IDC said.
With data usage on mobile devices skyrocketing, the onus is now on the carriers to bring their mobile data strategies up to speed with the times. Take for instance the all too familiar 5GB/month data cap, which appears totally out of place in a world where smartphones are increasingly delivering a PC-like browsing experience and, consequently, pushing bandwidth consumption upwards.
In a welcome move, T-Mobile has decided to move beyond this practice. It has done away with overage charges beyond the 5GB limit. However, the number still retains a bit of its past significance as users will now have to put up with slower speeds beyond the 5GB threshold. As for those on T-Mobile’s 200MB data plan, there is only limited respite, with the company lowering overage charges to $0.10 from $0.20 per MB.
European Commission's consumer protection unit has chalked out a new plan under which MP3 and mobile phone makers will be required to throttle device volume in a bid to save millions from the risk of deafness. However, millions of MP3 and mobile phone users will have to bear that risk for another two years - the amount of time EU has earmarked for manufacturers to come up with new devices.
New devices will ship with their sound levels capped at 80 decibels. But the consumer will be free to tinker with the factory settings. "If consumers chose to over-ride the default settings they can, but there will be clear warnings so they know the risks they are taking," said Meglena Kuneva, the head of European Commission’s consumer protection unit.
This partnership is a huge shot in the arm for Intel - which has been waiting for its chance to gain real traction in the mobile phone market - as it has found a huge customer for its mobile chipsets in the form of Nokia. Intel has also agreed to acquire a Nokia HSPA/3G modem IP license from Nokia. On the software front, they have resolved to give a push to open-source mobile Linux software projects.
For Android to be a force to be reckoned with, the first Android-based phone has to be a success. T-Mobile is very optimistic about the sales prospects of its upcoming G1 - the maiden Android phone - which will become available on October 22, 2008. The service provider expects the Android-based G1 to take the market by storm.