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There's encouraging news for the mobile phone industry today after Dataquest reported that sales of handsets were up almost eight per cent compared to the same time last year.

Mobile phone sales topped 104m units in the third quarter of 2002, up 7.8 per cent from 97m in Q3 2001. According to analysts, the most encouraging part of this is that all the regions covered by Dataquest saw an increase in demand for phones. It's also predicted that this growth could spill over into Q4 as new feature-packed handsets become available through the rest of the year.

Nokia widened its lead as the top handset outfit increasing its global market share to almost 36 per cent, from 34 per cent last year. In Europe, Nokia has more than half of the market share for mobile phones.

Nokia was followed by Motorola (14 per cent), Samsung (11 per cent) and Siemens (8 per cent). By contrast, Motorola saw its global market share position decline during the quarter. Dataquest said Motorola's share slipped mainly because of "critical delays" in the availability of two new models - the T720 and C330 - which were expected to ship in volume in the early part Q3.

Motorola is exposed to uncertainty in its main markets of the US and China, so its best hopes for improvement next quarter rest in developing a stronger presence in the GSM markets of EMEA and Asia-Pacific (excluding China), Dataquest reckons.

While the overall improvements in sales is to be welcomed, analysts say that mobile phone manufacturers will need to be on top of their game to maintain growth.

In mature markets, such as Europe, most of the sales will come from people replacing their phones.

And while the combination of colour, cameras and content is expected to entice people to replace their phones over the next 18 months or so, manufacturers will need to keep coming up with new ideas to stimulate demand, it said. ®

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