Mobile-phone market continues to weaken

this week its revenue and profit forecasts, echoing a mid-November downgrade by Nokia.

Others are likely to follow. Gartner says year-over-year growth in the global smartphone market is the weakest since the research firm began tracking the industry. Smartphones overall will grow, but much more slowly than in the past.

RIM says it now expects Q3 revenue of US$2.75 billion to $2.78 billion, instead of the $2.95 billion to $3.1 billion previously forecast. That still represents a gain of about 65% compared with the same quarter a year ago. Nevertheless, fiscal 2009 is shaping up to be a big letdown compared to RIM's stellar . 

The Canadian BlackBerry maker says about one-third of the drop is due to depreciation "of certain foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar." The remainder is from lower-than-estimated unit shipments, reflecting "general economic weakness" in the United States and some shifts in RIM's product launch dates.

Barely two week ago, Finland-based Nokia projected lower-than-expected Q4 unit shipments, estimating total shipments for the fiscal year at 1.24 billion instead of 1.26 billion units. Nokia's 2007 number was 1.14 billion units. The company said it expects Q4 revenue and profits to be "negatively impacted" but wasn't specific. Just , Nokia projected Q4 device shipments would be higher than its disappointing . 

Gartner this week says Q3 global smartphone units will be 36.5 million units, an increase of 11.5% compared with a year earlier.