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Boom times ahead for WCDMA phones

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Sales of Motorola 3G phones based on the WCDMA standard will more than quadruple next year, the company said yesterday.

WCDMA (Wideband Code-Division Multiple Access) handset sales will account for five per cent of unit sales this year, according to Ron Garriques, president of Motorola's handset division. "We think that could easily quadruple next year to 20 per cent or more," he told Reuters.

Motorola plans to launch 16 new WCDMA handsets next year, out of a total of 60 new modals, compared to eight new WCDMA mobiles (also out of 60 new models)this year. Garriques predicts 3G handset sales will outstrip the sales of second-generation GSM phones by 2008.

His bullish forecast follows the recent start of a European rollout of WCDMA-based 3G services by Vodafone. WCDMA is the 3G version of GSM, widely used in Europe, which competes with the rival CDMA2000 standard on the world stage.

Market watcher iSuppli reckons there were 30 commercial WCDMA networks and 12 commercial CDMA2000 networks operating in Europe, Japan, South Korea, the United States and South America at the end of June 2004. iSuppli reckons around 12 new WCDMA networks will be set up in Europe and at least five additional CDMA2000 networks will be established elsewhere during the second half of 2004.

According to a recent Gartner study, Motorola's share of the worldwide handset market was 15.8 per cent for Q2 2004, placing it second to Nokia. Nokia chalked up 29.7 per cent of an estimated 156.4m unit sales for Q2 2004 down from 35.6 per cent of 115.8m unit sales for Q2 2003, according to Gartner. The analyst group predicts Motorola will vye with Samsung for number two spot in the market over forthcoming months. iSuppli says handset unit sales will be flat in the last quarter of 2004, largely as a result of surplus inventory stockpiled during Q3. ®

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