The catch is that recent growth in Europe and Japan has come mostly by persuading 2.5G-phone users to upgrade.
The market for 3G phones worldwide will double to 40 million handsets this year, double the figure from last year, a research firm says.
Strategy Analytics says 3G handset sales reached 20 million last year, or 3% of the market, and hit 3 million handsets in '03.
3G is the term given to third-generation wireless phones. Talked about for some time as a revolutionary technology for telecommunications and information consumption, Strategy Analytics says it's becoming a reality.
A 3G phone should be able to receive high-speed multimedia information. The technology also is expected to eventually allow for global roaming.
Strategy Analytics attributed growth in Europe and Japan to heavy marketing by mobile telecoms. It appears that most of that growth came from people who had been using so-called 2.5G phones.
According to the firm's research, Motorola and LG Electronics were the top sellers of 3G handsets in the last quarter of 2004. It expects Nokia to make significant progress in the market this year.
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