NEW YORK: Sales of Motorola mobile phones plummeted 46% in the first quarter, the worst performer in an industry that saw mobile sales as a whole fall by 13 per cent to 245 million, compared to the same period in 2008.

Sony Ericcson sales fell by 35%, Nokia by 19%, LG by 7% and Samsung by just 1%. Apart from Samsung, the healthiest performer in the market is Apple's iPhone with sales doubling, albeit from a market debutant.

Research firm Strategy Analytics, which compiled the figures, says “Q1 2009 represented the fastest-ever decline in annual shipment growth since the modern cellphone industry began in 1983.”

Motorola's sales fell from 27.4m units to 14.7m in the quarter, pushing the group into a $231m loss, up from $194m in the first quarter of 2008. The handset unit on its own recorded a loss of $509m.

Motorola's misfortunes reflect its weak line-up of 3G handsets that enable web browsing. This makes it difficult to compete in the smart phone sector where mobiles double up as mini-computers. Its share of the worldwide market is now just 6%.

But joint chief executive Sanjay Ya said he felt the company was making good progress in the mobile unit. “I do feel we have turned a corner,” he says, forecasting that the current quarter's operating loss would narrow “significantly.”


Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff