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580m handsets to go in 2004

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Following strong sales in the first few weeks of the year, Gartner has upped its forecast for the number of mobile phones to be shipped in 2004 to 580m.

The technology analyst reported that sales in 2003 exceeded industry expectation, to the point that vendors struggled to meet the demand for new mobile handsets.

Worldwide, 520m mobile phone units shipped in 2003 - a 20.5 per cent increase on 2002. Gartner attributed the increase to strong replacement demand in mature markets, coupled with higher than expected growth in emerging markets.

"The Asia-Pacific market remained strong in the fourth quarter, fully recovering from the impact of SARS earlier in the year," said Gartner analyst Ann Liang. "The vendor competition in China remained as fierce as ever as local vendors fought for market share while the market continued to surge in India."

Nokia continues to ship the most new units, but its market share has slipped from 35.1 per cent in 2002 to 34.7 per cent in 2003, due to competition and aggressive pricing from its competitors, particularly in Asia.

Despite a 2.4 per cent fall in world market share and the loss of the leading position in the US mobile handset market, Motorola is still the second biggest vendor, with 14.5 per cent of the market, followed by Samsung, Siemens and Sony Ericsson.

"Motorola paid a heavy price for the problems it had in delivering some products on time throughout 2003, particularly in CDMA where both LG and Nokia made gains at its expense," said Gartner principal analyst Ben Wood. "Motorola has started off this year well, and its outlook for 2004 is increasingly positive."

Motorola is enjoying strong sales of its Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN) product, which is a wireless technology combining a mobile phone, two-way radio, alpha-numeric pager, and data/fax modem in a single network.

© ENN

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