Netbooks and smartphones are the two technologies whose sales are actually growing because of the recession, as consumers purchase them in lieu of more expensive PCs. While not as explosive as the netbook market, smartphone sales will also increase this year. Analysts predict that, while the overall sales of cell phones will drop in 2009, the sale of smartphones will rise. Market research firm iSuppli predicts that smartphone sales will grow from 6 to 11 percent this year. The gap in the predicted numbers stems from iSuppli calculating for both optimistic and pessimistic scenarios.

In the optimistic scenario, wireless network operators reduce the price of phones and data plans. This would lead to 11 percent growth.

The pessimistic scenario, which would result in only 6 percent growth, sees customer confidence and spending remaining as bad as it is now.

Overall, iSuppli sees mobile sales falling 12 percent in 2009.

iSuppli also predicts that nearly one-fifth of mobile sales this year will be smart phones, forecasting that these sales will account for 17.4 and 16.6 percent of the total market.

These numbers are less than those published by the NPD Group, who say that 23 percent of US phones are smartphones.

In a study similar to iSuppli’s, FWD Concepts projects smartphone growth to be just over 13 percent in 2009, less than the market’s 19 percent growth in 2008.

Both iSuppli and FWD Concepts point to the expansion of 3G networks and falling phone prices as the dual motors behind smartphone adoption.

By Mark Alvarez