The mobile phone market is as hot as ever, according to the NPD Group. The market research company says that U.S. consumer sales totaled 67 million units for the first half of 2006. That figure is 2% smaller than the total for the last six months of 2005, but it still was good enough for a $4.4 billion tally after rebates and promotions.
"There was a small, seasonal drop during the first half of this year, compared to the second half of last year," said Neil Strother, research director for mobile devices at the NPD Group. "But this is to be expected, since holiday purchasing accounts for higher mobile phone sales during the latter part of every year."
Motorola dominated the field, with an increase in market share from 29% to 32% thanks to its popular RAZR line. Nokia and LG tied for the number two slot with 16% each, followed by Samsung at 15%. Motorola also claimed 42% of the GSM market, with Nokia at 23% and Samsung at 13%. LG took the lead in the CDMA segment, with 36%, followed by Samsung's 18% and Motorola's 14%.
Consumers are snapping up phones that can do more than make calls, too. Sales of mobile phones with removable media slots jumped more than 250%, from 567,000 units in the second quarter of 2005 to 2 million in the first quarter of 2006. Designed to accept memory cards, these slots let users port music, video, photos, and other digital media between their phones and other devices.
"In the past, you'd see this feature available on Palm Treos or Windows Mobile devices," said Strother. "But now, removable media is showing up on more affordable phones, like Motorola's E815, LG's VX-8300, and Samsung's A-950." The most popular media format in the first quarter of 2006 was microSD, which now comes installed in nearly half of all phones with removable media slots.
Overall, sales of music-enabled devices have doubled since last year, moving from 5% of the market during the second quarter of 2005 to more than 10% during the second quarter of 2006. The percentage of Bluetooth-enabled phones increased as well, from 9% during the second quarter of 2005 to 22% this past quarter.
The NPD Group