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Worldwide Cell Phone Sales Increase By 13.6%

Emerging markets are booming, but sales in Western Europe and Japan fell by double digits, Gartner's latest survey reveals.
Buoyed by rapid cell phone adoption in emerging markets, worldwide sales of mobile phones increased by 13.6 % in the first quarter of 2008 from the same period last year, Gartner said Wednesday.

But cell phone sales in Western Europe dropped 16.4%, the first decline in the region since Gartner began tracking handset sales in 2001. Sales in Japan also dropped by 10.1%.

"While sales in emerging markets continued to be driven by strong net new subscribers' growth, mature markets felt the pressure of an uncertain economic environment," said Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner.

These economic concerns made many customers seek mid-tier devices, Milanesi said. Additionally, mobile carriers were signing customers to longer contracts, which means prospective buyers weren't upgrading as often.

As expected, Nokia is the largest vendor measured by unit sales. The Finnish company sold 115.2 million units during the quarter, capturing 39.1% of the market.

Samsung Electronics found itself in second place with sales of 42.4 million units and 14.4% of the global handset market.

Continuing its downward slide, Motorola's market share slipped to 10.2%. The third largest vendor shipped 29.9 million phones in the first three months of 2008, a 37% decline from the year before. Gartner analysts were not optimistic about the company's prospects for the rest of 2008.

"Motorola is unlikely to introduce many products in the second half of 2008, a time when most competitors will bring new additions to the market, so it stands little chance of winning back its number two position," Milanesi said. "It may even have to watch out for a threat from current number four player LG."

LG Electronics had a great quarter, overtaking Sony Ericsson for fourth place. LG shipped 23.6 million units, good for 8% share of the market.