February 10, 2009 7:27AM
Over all, these devices make up about 10 percent of the U.S. cell phone market and are considered likely to grow in popularity, driving people to upgrade and pay for more data to do things like download songs and send text messages. In the fourth quarter, for example, AT&T's data revenue for each subscriber rose 27 percent, to $16.30 from about $12 a year earlier.
Smartphones notwithstanding, the number of handsets sold around the world has been falling in important regions -- even before the recession. In Western Europe, there were around 191 million mobile phones sold in 2007, a figure that fell to 171 million in 2008 and is projected at 165 million in 2009, according to Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with the research firm Gartner.
In the United States, people bought 176 million handsets in 2007, and 184 million in 2008. That number will probably remain flat this year, the Gartner analyst said. She said that Europe might provide some indication of where the United States was headed because, as highly populated as America is with phones, it is still slightly behind Europe. In the fourth quarter, Nokia sold 113 million handsets, down about 15 percent from a year earlier. Samsung Electronics said worldwide cell phone demand might be down 10 percent in 2009.