Mobile device consumers defer plan to upgrade, wait for price cuts

Consumers of mobile devices, particularly current owners of smartphones, have been reported to defer plans to upgrade in the third quarter of this year as they wait and assess the remaining months of 2011.

Nonetheless, worldwide sales of mobile devices totaled 440.5 million units in Q3 of 2011, up 5.6% from the same period last year, according to information technology research and advisory company Gartner, Inc.

Non-smartphone devices performed well, driven by demand in emerging markets for low-cost devices from white-box manufacturers, and for dual-subscriber identity module (SIM) devices.

Sales into the channel reached 460 million units. Gartner analysts said this increase was because of inventory build-up in the channel partly because of the shipping of new devices late in the quarter but mostly to prepare the channel for the holiday season. Gartner expects most of the build-up to be sold by the first quarter of 2012.

"Our forecast for the end of the year remains broadly in line at a worldwide level, as regions such as Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Africa make up for weaker performance in the Western European market," said Annette Zimmermann, principal analyst at Gartner based in Munich.