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GSM will continue to dominate handset sales

It's just got too far for CDMA to catch up

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Report Annual cellular phone handset sales will virtually double by 2003, but although it will show the highest growth rate, the CDMA digital standard isn't going to make breakthrough. According to a new report from Cahners In-Stat, of the 392 million units sold in 2003 (up from 207 million this year), 203 million will be GSM. The numbers provide a valuable reality check for those of you in danger of believing we'll all be using third generation broadband systems by 2003. Cahners is cagey, simply observing that this year: "As digital users begin to implement 2 1/2 generation data and Internet ready handsets, we will finally learn if data is the killer application that most believe it is." The Register wishes to point out that lots of otherwise rational people have been predicting the triumph of wireless data for years, so far erroneously. Cahners says CDMA will score an annual growth rate of 24.69 per cent, TDMA 22.46 per cent and GSM 22.66 per cent. CDMA's lead, however, is based on growth from the smallest base, so probably the best it can hope for is a reasonably strong position in its core US market. TDMA's continued growth, however, means that CDMA won't have it all its own way there, and TDMA is of course a relation of GSM's. GSM meanwhile looks set to trample across the rest of the world, and here it might be worth considering that Cahner's numbers might be overly conservative. Growth in the region of 20-25 per cent per annum is probably achievable for the territories which are already fairly heavily populated with mobile phone users, so major breakthroughs elsewhere surely ought to generate far higher growth overall. By the way, Cahners, we notice although you've press released the report you haven't got around to putting it up for sale on your Web site yet. We feel slack attitudes of this sort may undermine the value of your future e-commerce reports somewhat... ®

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