Wall St. Havoc Deals Blow to Mobile Phone Makers

Reuters reports Mobile phone makers and operators risk losing thousands of their most profitable customers as financial havoc whacks the global banking industry.

Analysts said the success of Blackberry-maker RIM is the most dependent on Wall Street’s future.

In worst case scenario 40,000 workers may lose their jobs in finance following Lehman’s collapse and problems at other big financial firms, New York Governor David Paterson said earlier this week.

“RIM probably looks most exposed to any downside risk in this segment,” said analyst Neil Mawston from research firm Strategy Analytics, adding that also Palm and HPcould feel the pinch.

Handset makers already face an increasingly fierce battle for market share as demand slows in the United States and Europe, where economies are under pressure from the global credit crunch.

Operators have started to answer the growing problem by shifting their subsidy dollars to more expensive phone models — hoping to attract clients who spend more money by surfing on the Internet and checking their e-mail.

“In North America they have been targeting especially higher-data devices,” said Carolina Milanesi, analyst at research firm Gartner.

The global mobile phone market is expected to grow around 10 percent this year, boosted by the continuing surge in demand for cheap phones in emerging markets like India. Reuters has more