A View from Brad King

Handsets Cross One-Billion Mark

As more-powerful cell phones hit the consumer market, expect a boom in mobile media.

  • January 26, 2007

Mobile phones are on the move. Sales of mobiles broke the one-billion-units-sold barrier in 2006, further securing the dominance of the handheld market.

One of the biggest sales drivers is the specialty phone, whether doubling as an all-in-one organizer or as a digital-media device. Consumers continue to shell out big bucks–high-end phones can cost upward of $400–for the multiuse devices.

And demand for the devices has spread outside the traditional three-market sphere (Japan, Europe, and North America). From the Reuters story:

“More recently, however, device shipments into emerging economies in Asia/Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America have surpassed shipments to mature markets,” said analyst Ramon Llamas at market research group IDC.

While the traditional mobile-phone powers–Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericcson–still rule the roost, many expect Apple’s iPhone to push the mobile market even higher.

The popularity of these multimedia handsets, while offering a compelling new outlet for music and movies, will bring a new headache to the entertainment industries already reeling from a continuous seven-year battle with file-swapping users. As these devices get more powerful and ad hoc, Bluetooth-enabled communities spring up, and sharing will no longer be confined to the home computer.

And that’s a very real possibility, according to a new study that found that 60 percent of Americans don’t believe downloading movies is against the law.

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