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Over 500m handsets to ship next year

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More than half a billion mobile phones will be sold next year, market watcher IDC has calculated, thanks to an eight per cent increase in sales over 2003 driven by demand for GPRS and 3G handsets.

Of the latter, 140 per cent more phones will be sold next year around the world than was the case this year, with shipments rising above 48 million units from the 20 million or so that will have shipped throughout 2003.

But 3G will continue to be a small market compared to slower 2.5G handsets. IDC reckons that 241 million GPRS phones will ship next year, up 42 per cent on the 169 million that shipped this year.

Why 2.5G? Because, by default, almost all non-3G phones these days are 2.5G, even if they're not being used to make GPRS connections. Indeed, the growth comes not from faster-than-GSM data transmission but the growth of the cameraphone market.

IDC forecasts that cameraphone shipments will grow 64 per cent between 2004 and 2003, with over 100 million digicam-equipped handsets shipping next year - almost a third of the handset market.

Shipments of smartphones, meanwhile, will grow 111 per cent to 30 million units next year - more than the number of Palm-branded devices, for example, that have shipped ever (22.3 million at the time of Palm's last count, 24 June). ®

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