The cellphone market will rebound more strongly than expected this year as improving economies boost spending on new gadgets and handset vendors push cheap smartphones, research firm Gartner said on Tuesday. The market fell 1 percent in 2009, the first decline in eight years as consumers cut spending amid recession. But Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said she now expects the market to grow 11-13 percent this year, compared with the firm's December forecast for a 9-percent increase. “The economy seems to be stabilising more into a recovery trend than we forecast back in December,” Milanesi said. “Sales will return to low-double-digit growth, but competition will continue to put a strain on vendors' margins.” Gartner is more optimistic than the top cellphone maker Nokia, which has forecast growth around 10 percent, and also slightly ahead of analysts' consensus of 11 percent in a Reuters poll this month. Gartner sees smartphone market volume growing a whopping 46 percent from 172.4 million sold last year, boosted by cheaper models. The most affordable now cost just over $100 excluding operator subsidies. Gartner said it expects average sale prices in 2010 to fall more slowly than last year – when intense competition hurt pricing in markets such as China and India – helped by an improving economy and consumers upgrading to cheap smartphones.
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