Still, Nokia remains a small player in North America, where its market share dropped to 5.1% in the fourth quarter.
Nokia was the fastest growing company out of the top five mobile phone makers and captured a large chunk of the global market in the fourth quarter of last year, while Samsung and Motorola continued to struggle, according to a report released on Tuesday by research firm iSuppli.
Nokia is the "monster of the mobile-handset business," as iSuppli puts it, having grown 26.5% annually and capturing 38% of the total worldwide mobile phone market share last year. Nokia's market share in the fourth quarter was 39.5%.
The No. 1 phone maker shipped 133.5 million mobile phones in the fourth quarter, up 19.5% from 111.7 million in the third quarter, according to iSuppli. It shipped 437.1 million phones in total last year.
Nokia remains a small player in North America, which is the company's challenge going forward. Nokia's market share dropped to 5.1% in North America in the fourth quarter, compared with 5.9% in the same period in 2006, according to the company's filings.
But it has plans to expand its presence in North America with the introduction of 12 new phones specifically for the U.S. market this year. Nokia already announced that it will begin selling the 8 GB version of its N95 multimedia phone in the U.S.
As a comparison, Samsung's market share in 2007 was 14%, followed by Motorola with 13.8%, Sony Ericsson with 9%, and LG Electronics with 8%. Both Samsung and Motorola lost some market share in the fourth quarter. Samsung's share dropped to 13.7% and Motorola's to 12.1%.
ISuppli reported that despite Samsung's drop in market share, it shipped an impressive number of mobile phones. Samsung shipped 45.3 million units in the fourth quarter of last year, which is a 45.1% increase from 31.9 million in the same period in 2006. Samsung sold a total of 161.1 million mobile phones in 2007.
The company struggling the most was Motorola. It shipped 40.9 million mobile phones in the fourth quarter of last year, but shipments were down 37.7% compared to 65.7 million in the same period in 2006. For all of 2007, Motorola shipped 159 million mobile phones, which is a 26.8% decrease from 217.4 million shipments in 2006. iSuppli attributed the decline to slowing demand for existing mobile phones, delays in introducing new products, and several other financial factors.
Motorola, however, recently said that it's trying to fix its mobile unit and hopes that a new partnership with Qualcomm will boost its mobile business. Motorola announced last week that it will design Qualcomm chipsets into some UMTS 3G handsets, which would compete with Nokia phones that use the European-developed standard.
Sony Ericsson was the only other phone maker to exceed the industry average growth rate in the fourth quarter, iSuppli said. It shipped 30.8 million units during the quarter, up 18.9% from 25.9 million in the third quarter, and 103.4 million units last year in total.
Like Nokia, Sony Ericsson is now focused on expanding its U.S. product lineup. A big part of Sony Ericsson's strategy is to get more phones into the hands of mobile users in the U.S., where several of its Cyber-shot and Walkman models are doing well, according to the company.
LG Electronics rounded out the top five, reporting the lowest sequential quarterly increase of 8.2%. LG shipped 23.7 million mobile phones in the fourth quarter and 80.5 million in total for 2007. Recently the company set an ambitious sales goal for this year, which involves selling $13 billion worth of products in North America.
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