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CEA: Phone sales up in ’02

ARLINGTON, Va.-Despite the dark shadow the depressed economy has cast on much of the U.S. wireless sector, the Consumer Electronics Association’s recently released Digital America 2002 report shows wireless device sales are still up, third-generation services are still unfolding and demand for wireless services continues to grow.

CEA predicts 57 million handsets will be sold in the United States this year, up from the 53.4 million sold in 2001. The organization points out that handset sales actually improved slightly in 2001 for consumer electronics dealers, likely due to a post-Sept. 11 push for wireless connectivity. According to CEA, pager sales growth also will be up for 2002, with sales totaling $810 million, representing a $20 million increase from 2001.

In its wireless industry review, CEA details the status of the U.S. 3G rollout, speculating widespread deployment will occur in 2003. According to a CEA study, 30 percent of mobile-phone owners believe SMS (which many consider 2.5G) is an important feature-a finding CEA says “bodes well for future uses of a mobile phone for alternative types of communication.” CEA also surveyed mobile-phone owners on what they want to get from wireless Internet access: 63 percent showed interest in wireless e-mail; 47 percent want weather reports; 32 percent want news, and another 32 percent want to view Web pages.

CEA investigated user interest in PDAs, finding only 10 percent of online users own a PDA vs. 75 percent of online users who own a wireless phone. Moreover, 64 percent of consumers said they do not see the need for PDA. Based on these statistics, CEA cites two major obstacles industry must take on to achieve higher PDA adoption rates: consumer education and cost. CEA also surveyed those who do own PDAs, inquiring what they want in their next purchase, and found wireless modem topped the list with 27 percent. More memory came in second with 18 percent.

CEA plans to create educational programs aimed at helping retail personnel sell wireless and handheld products; and conduct research and develop a confidential database of wireless retailers to market CEA programs and events.

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