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Mobile sales hit all time high

Mobile handset sales topped the half a billion unit mark during 2003 as strong sales in all regions contributed to 29.7% year-over-year growth during 4Q03.

The world continues to become ever more mobile as global sales of mobile phones boomed in the fourth quarter of 2003. According to IDC, strong sales in all regions contributed to 29.7% year-over-year growth during 4Q03 and unit sales hit 167.8 million units.

The fourth quarter figures added to sterling growth during the rest of 2003 and handset sales topped half a billion units shipped for the first time in the market’s history.

“Worldwide mobile phone manufacturers grew their sales by tapping into robust demand in emerging markets in Asia and Eastern Europe. In addition to driving increased sales, first-time buyers' preference for more expensive midrange and high-end mobile phones helped to drive additional revenue to phone manufacturers," explains David Linsalata, analyst in IDC's mobile devices programme.

"Additionally, North American and Western European consumers elected to replace their existing handsets with new 2.5G models as the need for 3G remains unproven," he adds.

While the traditional handset market still accounts for the bulk of sales, the market for converged mobile devices, or smartphones, also took off during 2003. In 4Q03 alone the worldwide converged mobile device market grew 182.3% year-over-year and 77.4% sequentially to 3.7 million units. Strong sales during the fourth quarter drove worldwide shipments for 2003 up 181.6% year-over-year to 9.6 million devices.

"As new devices from Research in Motion (RIM) and newly-reformed palmOne reach market, consumers and enterprises alike are experiencing a fresh take on data-centric converged mobile devices," says Linsalata.

"Simultaneously, voice-centric converged mobile devices based on a range of software platforms and available in variety of form factors are seeing significant growth as vendors such as Nokia and Motorola weave imaging and data capabilities with proven telephony experience to form significantly improved devices," he adds.

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