Our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service's freshly published report -- Global Handset Distribution Forecast: Offline vs. Online -- models mobile phone sales by channel.
We forecast the distribution of mobile phones through online retail channels will grow +27% worldwide in 2013. A steadily growing number of mobile phones will be sold through online channels over time, making this an increasingly important distribution channel for operators and retailers.
North America and Western Europe represent the highest online % during the forecast timeframe, while China is seeing significant changes in distribution flows at the moment, due to pioneering companies like Xiaomi, as well as emerging e-commerce players.
Online channels continue to gain a rising share of global mobile phone distribution flows, notably in developed regions where wide Internet access and access to financial credit support online purchasing behaviors. While operators are especially strong in online distribution channels in developed markets, they will find it more difficult to gain a similar presence in developing markets where third-party retail channels currently dominate. Operators are best positioned to establish a foothold in mobile phone distribution in developing markets, both online and offline, by partnering with handset suppliers and focusing on upcoming high-value 4G postpaid customer segments.