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Global mobile phone sales soar

600m handsets in 2004?

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Demand for mobile phones is soaring as handset sales chalked up yet another record. Strong demand in all major regions of the world meant that total sales grew 34 per cent in the first three months of the year, compared to the same period last year.

In all, some 153m handsets were sold in Q1 2004 - a record apparently - according to research outfit Gartner. And with such a strong start to 2004, analysts reckon that handset sales for 2004 could hit 600m by the end of the year.

Demand was particularly strong in China, where the latest Government figures claim that one in four Chinese people will have a cellphone by the end of the year.

Demand for handsets in Western Europe were "higher than expected" as punters latched on to post-Christmas sales promos. Gartner also expects demand for 3G phones in Western Europe to rise in the second half of 2004, following the recent launch of 3G services by mobile operators Vodafone, T-Mobile and TIM. Mobile phone sales in North America grew 30 percent in the first quarter, while more than 11m handsets were sold in Japan.

Said senior Gartner analyst, Ben Wood: "Another record quarter of mobile phone sales resulted from an Asia/Pacific market buoyed by purchases for the Chinese New Year, healthy growth in emerging markets and surprising numbers of people in mature markets choosing to upgrade their phones.

"Based on first quarter results, we believe worldwide mobile phone sales will exceed 600 million units in 2004," he said. All of the top five handset vendors racked up in increased sales. Nokia still tops the league table flogging more than 44.2m handsets in Q1. Although this is an increase of 5m on last year, its market share shrank from 34 per cent to 29 per cent because of decreased sales in Western Europe and North America.

Motorola performed well in Q1 with "particularly robust sales in Western Europe" as its sales increased from 16.7 m to 25m. Samsung's grew from 12.3m to 19m while Siemens increased from 8.7m, to 12.3m. ®

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