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Mobile Phone Sales Near A Billion In 2006

Strong low-cost product offerings in the emerging markets, as well as feature-rich products, helped float Nokia to the top.

Antone Gonsalves

March 2, 2007

1 Min Read

Global mobile phone sales fell just short of a billion units in 2006, a market research firm said Friday.

Worldwide sales surpassed 990.8 million units last year from 816.6 million in 2005, Gartner said. Sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2006 was slightly slower than in the same period in 2005. Fourth-quarter sales last year accounted for 284.2 million units, a 21% increased from the year before.

Nokia finished the year with a 36.2% market share, rising 2.3% over 2005 despite criticism for having a lack of slim phones popular in mature markets in North America and Western Europe, and a weak midrange offering, Gartner said.

"Strong low-cost product offerings in the emerging markets, as well as feature rich products in the mature market, proved to be the right combination for Nokia in 2006," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said in a statement.

No. 2 Motorola achieved a 21.1% market share in 2006, up from 17.7% in 2005. Of the top six vendors, Samsung and LG loss less than a percent of market share, while BenQ Mobile fell 2.5%. Market share totals were Samsung, 11.8%; Sony Ericsson, 7.4%; LG, 6.3%; and BenQ, 2.4%.

Collectively, the top six vendors accounted for more than 85% of the market, while the market share for the remaining vendors was about 5% less than in 2005.

Despite the already highly competitive market, Gartner expected new players from other industries to enter the market. "We expect growth to slow down and overall mobile phone sales to be up to 1.2 billion worldwide," Milanesi said.

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