Phone manufacturers face tough time in 2009

It was bound to happen but the worldwide economic slowdown means that phone manufacturers are facing a tough year ahead.

In August, all was looking fairly rosy.

Gartner predicted that worldwide sales of mobile phones would reach 1.28 billion units in 2008, which is an 11% increase from last year.

But now, analysts have slashed their predictions on the growth of the mobile phone market in 2009, reflecting the world economic slowdown.

Reuters has rounded up the experts and claims Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and crew could face a tough time in 2009.

UBS analyst Maynard Um expects growth to slow from 6% to just 3%, while JPMorgan analyst Ehud Gelblum cut his more optimistic expectations from 8.1% to 6.1%.

Smartphones could fair better - especially as they are booming compared to sales of normal handsets with Gartner reporting 29% growth in the first quarter.

But the second quarter wasn't as good, with sales slipping to 15.7% compared to the previous year.

Gartner is predicting improvements for the third quarter.

Analyst Roberta Cozza said: "Wider availability of new touch smartphone models together with the global introduction of the iPhone 3G will help sales of smartphones return to stronger growth in the third quarter of 2008".

But what beyond this?