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Handset makers turn to Asia amid gloomy prospects in Europe

2012/06/03 17:55:58

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) Handset manufacturers are increasingly turning to emerging markets in the Asia Pacific for sales growth amid waning consumer sentiment in Europe, analysts said Sunday.

Huang Chin-ying, an analyst at the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center, said Western Europe's sales growth by volume of 12.8 percent in 2011 showed that sales momentum in the region was clearly slowing down.

By comparison, mobile phone unit sales grew 49 percent in North America and 146 percent in the Asia-Pacific region last year.

Huang predicted the annual growth rate in Western Europe will be even lower this year.

Wang Yang, an analyst at IHS iSuppli Asia Shanghai Ltd., said a growing number of handset makers are increasing shipments to China, an indication that China's domestic market is growing.

He also noted a growing low-end smartphone market there, with Chinese consumers increasingly choosing generic brands or low-cost mobile phones made by local firms such as Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Technology Co, he said.

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp. said at its quarterly investor conference in April that its declining market share in the United States will likely be offset by strong demand in Asia, especially in China.

Lu Chun-kuan, a senior research analyst at Gartner Taiwan, cautioned, however, that mobile sales in China by volume declined in the first quarter of this year, saying such an "unexpected decline" had more impact on markets than the "expected" sales drop in Europe.

China is facing a turning point not only in consumer preferences -- with a majority of Chinese now favoring low-end smartphones -- but also in changes in its retail market, factors that the mobile phone market needs to consider, Lu said.

(By Stacey Wu and Ann Chen)