Worldwide mobile handsets hit 251m

Worldwide mobile phone sales rose 21.5% in Q306 versus Q305, reaching 251 million units, according to the latest report from analyst firm Gartner

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By  Published  December 3, 2006

Worldwide mobile phone sales rose 21.5% in Q306 versus Q305, reaching 251 million units, according to the latest report from analyst firm Gartner.

The total number of mobile handsets sold in 2006 is expected to reach 986 million units, according to Gartner’s predictions. [This is in comparison to 281 million units in the fourth quarter of 2006.]

Analysts at Gartner attributed the growth in part to an ongoing rise in sales to first-time buyers in emerging markets.

“Although sales of replacement handsets during the third quarter, in the more mature markets were not as buoyant as we have been accustomed to they were offset by continuing momentum in sales to first-time buyers in emerging markets,” said Carolina Milanesi, principal analyst for mobile terminals research at Gartner.

“We have also started to see increasing sales of replacement models in some emerging market, which helped push up total sales in the third quarter.”

By region, Gartner noted that sales of mobile phones grew 19% in Q306 over the same Q305 to nearly 48 million units in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Middle East countries that contributed strongly to the increase included Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the research firm said.

A breakdown of sales for the Middle East was not provided.

Sales in North America and Latin America were also strong, rising 12% and 13.7% respectively, offsetting weaker sales growth in Western Europe where revenues rose a mere 1.9% year on year.

The three leading vendors — Nokia, Motorola and Samsung — continued to dominate the handset market, accounting for a combined 68% of worldwide mobile sales during the quarter.

Nokia retained its leading position with a 35.1 market share followed by Motorola and Samsung.

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