Handset makers poised for a shakeup in 2009

In the face of a global economic downturn and weakening demand, handset makers and vendors affiliated with cell phone components are probably headed toward a large shakeup, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Some of the recent news from the sector has not been cheerful: Nokia, the world's largest handset maker, recently cut its fourth quarter and preliminary 2009 outlook; chip-maker Qualcomm cut its 2009 forecast; and Motorola just cut 3,000 jobs and is refocusing its handset division.

The article cites a Strategy Analytics forecast of shipments declining 1 percent in 2009. Companies with more high-end portfolios, including Apple, Research In Motion and HTC will be better positioned to handle any turmoil that would affect the handset market. All three have showcase devices that could help propel them through any choppy waters. In the case of RIM, there are multiple devices that could turn into large sellers, most notably the BlackBerry Storm, which Verizon Wireless is launching this week.

However, others such as Motorola and Sony Ericsson, which cut 450 jobs from its North American headquarters earlier this fall, are in a weaker position. Motorola has said it is planning on focusing more on phones running on Windows Mobile and Google's Android platform to chart it back to growth, but said an Android phone would not be in the market until the end of 2009.     

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