iPhone Leads U.S. Consumer Cell Purchases in the Q3 of 2008

Posted by at 11:34 am on November 10, 2008

The NPD Group, the leader in market research for the wireless industry, Apple’s iPhone 3G surpassed the top-ranked Motorola RAZR as the leading handset purchased by adult consumers* in the U.S. in the third quarter (Q3) of 2008. RAZR had been ranked by NPD as the top-selling consumer handset for the past 12 quarters.

Even with stronger consumer sales of iPhone, and the mobile phone market’s normal seasonal uplift after Q2, domestic handset purchases by adult consumers declined 15 percent year over year in Q3 to 32 million units. Consumer handset sales revenue fell 10 percent to $2.9 billion, even as the average selling price (ASP) rose 6 percent to $88.

Top-selling handsets and mobile phone brands

“The displacement of the RAZR by the iPhone 3G represents a watershed shift in handset design from fashion to fashionable functionality,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for NPD. “Four of the five best-selling handsets in the third quarter were optimized for messaging and other advanced Internet features.”

The top handset models in rank order, based on unit sales in Q3, were as follows:

  1. Apple iPhone 3G
  2. Motorola RAZR V3 (all models)
  3. RIM Blackberry Curve (all models)
  4. LG Rumor
  5. LG enV2

Popular features

When it comes to the specific features that motivated U.S. consumers to purchase, 43 percent of handset buyers cited the need for a camera and 36 percent noted the ability to send and receive text messages. Mobile phones with a QWERTY keyboard experienced the greatest year-over-year rise in sales; 30 percent of handsets were sold with this feature in Q3 2008, versus just 11 percent the year prior. Also this quarter 83 percent of phones purchased were Bluetooth enabled (versus 72 percent last year), and nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) of phones purchased in Q3 were music enabled (versus 49 percent last year).

“A growing data divide continues in cellular handsets,” Rubin said. “Those who see the value in wireless Internet access are justifying the investment, whereas voice-centric users have little incentive to upgrade, which is obviously detrimental to operators who seek to sell data plans and media access services to their subscribers.”

Methodology: NPD compiles and analyzes mobile device sales data based on more than 150,000 completed online consumer research surveys each month. Surveys are based on a nationally balanced and demographically representative sample of U.S. adults. Results are projected to represent the entire population of U.S. consumers age 18 and older.

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