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Cell Phone Shipments Pass 1 Billion Mark; GPS Boost Expected Soon

Nokia and Motorola were the sales leaders. But the Sony-Ericsson partnership recorded the most growth, nailing down the third position as it passed Samsung.
Just as annual mobile phone shipments passed the 1 billion mark, the relatively new category of global positioning system phones is emerging to give cell phone shipments a turbo charge in 2007.

In a report released Thursday by Strategy Analytics, the usual suspects -- Nokia and Motorola -- were cited as the sales leaders, but the Sony-Ericsson partnership recorded the most growth, nailing down the third position as it passed Samsung for the first time.

"Mobile phone sales have exploded from less than 100,000 units in 1997 and have now passed the 1 billion level in 2006," said Neil Mawston, the market research firm's associate director, in a statement. The firm noted that 300,000 handsets were shipped in the fourth quarter of 2006, representing a 22% growth over the previous year's comparable quarter.

In another market research report, Canalys said 12 million phones with GPS technology were sold in the first nine months of 2006, and the firm predicted that nearly 28 million would sell in the comparable period this year.

"GPS has been in the domain of the early adopters to date, but in 2007 it will come to the masses," said Nokia's product marketing chief, Marcus Dacombe, who was quoted in media reports.

Additional market research has predicted that the GPS cell phone market in Europe, which has traditionally lagged other markets, will undergo a rapid deployment of GPS phones with 70 million GPS-enabled phones expected to ship in 2010.