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Appeared on: Monday, January 31, 2005
Bought a new phone? You and 194 million others

Worldwide shipments of mobile phones are still continuing to boom - although tough times may be ahead for the industry.

In the last quarter of 2004, over 194 million phones were shipped - a 24 per cent year-on-year increase. Full year shipments rose year-on-year by around 29 per cent, according to analyst house IDC.

The Christmas quarter was a bumper one for Finnish mobile giant Nokia. It has kept its share of the handset market above 30 per cent for the last half of 2004 and shipped over 66 million phones in the fourth quarter of 2004 - a year-on-year rise of 19 per cent.

The quarter saw the phone maker focusing particularly on wooing both budget-conscious new users and businesspeople, as well as finally introducing a clamshell-design phone to its portfolio.

The star performer for the fourth quarter, however, was Motorola. The handset manufacturer shipped a record number of phones - nearly 32 million. The figure represents a year-on-year increase of 57 per cent.

Motorola released 20 new models in the quarter, including its 'fashion' phone, the RAZR V3.

Motorola left vendor Samsung in third place, shipping 21 million phones, and losing seven per cent market share. Andrew Brown, programme director, European mobile devices at IDC, said of the South Korean vendor: "Samsung are moving in heavily - they're thrusting clamshells on the European market. And their R&D budget is important although [innovations like the hard-drive mobile] are more noise than serious intent."

Siemens, whose mobile handset business is the subject of persistent rumours of an impending sell-off or joint venture, lost its number four place in the vendor top five to LG. Its handsets racked up an 11 per cent decrease.

Brown said: "It's a huge brand and it has the potential to be turned around but it needs to be done in the right way.... They have way too much low-end weighting and they know it."

Brown predicted more growth for the industry as a whole. "It's refreshing after several years of being doldrums... A lot of the [future] growth will come from under-developed markets [as well as] replacement cycles," he said, adding 3G upgrades would also be a major driver.

While mobiles have been continuing on an upward tangent, voice-enabled PDAs and smart phones have been beating them hands down in terms of growth.

2004 saw year-on-year growth of 40 per cent in the PDA and smart phone segment.

Non-voice-enabled PDAs have seen their European market share slip by 1.4 per cent year-on-year, while voice PDAs and smart phones increased shipments by 33 per cent in the same period, according to separate research from market research firm Context.

The voice-centric winners were Nokia, Motorola, RIM and Q-Tek, with HP's voice friendly iPaq 6340 putting in a good showing.

It wasn't all rosy for HP's PDA business though - both HP and PalmOne saw their straight PDA share experience shrinkage, Context said, losing two percentage points growth year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

From silicon.com

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