By Claire Reilly

The meteoric rise in popularity of the smartphone continues unabated according to recent data from GfK. The GfK Temax index for the last quarter showed that the take up of telecommunications devices increased compared to the same period in 2010, with 44.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter value growth.

The GfK Retail and Technology Temax index tracked consumer trends in retail markets across the world, pulling in data from more than 340,000 global retail outlets to form a clearer picture of the ways consumers engage with their technology products.

According to a GfK spokesperson, “the smartphone market is now unquestionably the single largest category within the Australian Technical Consumer Goods industry”.

“Despite a 50% increase in the number of models available for purchase, the category continues to be heavily concentrated,” the spokesperson said. “The top three selling models account for over half of the total value of the category.

“As the market matures, polarity in pricing and product offering is becoming evident. More than one in six smartphones this quarter were sold in the relatively new sub-$150 price band; a band which is almost entirely dominated by pre-pay purchases. Within the $150+ segment, however, pre-pay accounts for less than one in ten units sold.”

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Across all the categories, telecommunications and IT products came out on top, with the latter growing in value by 12.3 per cent. While netbook sales were down over the Q3 2011 compared to 2010, web-book unit sales have nearly tripled, with sales value doubling. Since Q3 2010, the number of brands in the web-book category has also risen from 2 to 15.

It wasn’t all good news across the sector, as consumer electronics fell in value by 10.9 per cent and digital photography by 13.5 per cent.

According to the GfK spokesperson, the decline in CE products could be directly correlated to the fall in flat panel values – one of the largest categories in CE, and one that experienced double-digit unit growth and double-digit value decline.

“Unit sales were driven both by low-end promotions and the growth of super-large screens (50”+). In fact, the shift to larger screen sizes meant a flattening in the overall average price for the category, though the price erosion within each screen size continued apace.

“As larger screen sizes usually come with higher specifications as standard, the growth at this higher-end has also fuelled a growth in 3D and Smart TV. The value share of 3D has more than doubled since quarter 3, 2010, and web content now accounts for over half the value of the category.”