I previously looked at recession-busting sectors and products, and here's more proof that not all is bad: two reports point out that smartphones continue to outperform the market rather significantly, recording growth figures of 25.9% year-on-year in Europe; the growth for all of 2007 vs 2008 was even more impressive: they grew by 36.1%. In the US, smartphones increased their share of the overall mobile phone market from 12% in Q4/2007 to 25% a year later. Good numbers!
Half of the (US) smartphones now come with touchscreens, with 70% "instead" (?) having a QWERTY keyboard (my best guess is that this includes phones with a slide-out keyboard, such as the T-Mobile G1 or the Sony Ericsson Xperia).
So how come? The iPhone but also other devices like Blackberries, Nokia's higher-end phones (e.g. the N95) have powerfully demonstrated that the use of a mobile for things other than using voice and SMS (and take the occasional snap with a so-so camera) is not the end of all things. The overall feature sets of smartphones but - possibly more importantly still - the overall user experience is generally significantly better on a fairly comprehensive scale, and this - in particular in times of recession - would suggest a much higher value for money ("if I pay £50, then I get 4x in value of what I would otherwise have."): they now all contain decent cameras, enough storage to work as a decent MP3 player (or in Apple's case even as an iPod...), they do e-mail, connect more effortlessly to the Internet, play more fulfilling games and generally provide a much richer content experience (did I just hear "widgets"?).
For the content industry, this is good news: more powerful devices are generally easier to address and provide a better route to transport brands and production values across to the small screen. The iPhone has shown (see e.g. here and here) that users DO use their phones for all sorts of things if one makes it easy for them. Therefore, the smarter the phone, the higher the consumption. Good, good!