Mobile sales grew 21.5 per cent in Q3 – Analyst

Worldwide mobile phone sales totaled 251 million units in Q3 2006 according to analyst firm, Gartner which reiterated previous warnings that 2007 will see a significant slowdown.

The figure represents a 21.5 per cent increase on the same period last year. Gartner said Q3 sales in Asia/Pacific, especially India and China, rose dramatically and drove overall growth upwards. Asia/Pacific was the fastest growing region this quarter.

As a result of the strong quarter, Gartner raised its mobile phone sales forecast to reach 986 million units in 2006, with 281 million units in the fourth quarter of 2006.

“Although sales of replacement handsets during the third quarter, in the more mature markets were not as buoyant as we have been accustomed to they were offset by continuing momentum in sales to first-time buyers in emerging markets,” said Carolina Milanesi, principal analyst for Gartner. “We have also started to see increasing sales of replacement models in some emerging market, which helped push up total sales in the third quarter.”

Milanesi added: “In a market where players compete on price, technology and strategic partnerships, it is impossible to believe that life is not getting much tougher for the smaller vendors. Nokia, Motorola and Samsung accounted for 68 per cent of worldwide mobile sales in the third quarter of 2006.”

Nokia retained its worldwide No. 1 position with 35.1 per cent market share; gaining 2.6 percentage points compared to the same period last year. The Finnish giant increased its market share in all regions expect North America and also regained the top spot in Latin America after losing it to Motorola a year ago.

Motorola increased its worldwide market share in the third quarter of 2006 but experienced “challenges in some regions” Gartner said. Moto lost the No. 1 spot in Latin American and its No. 2 position in Western Europe and in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa region. The Krzr is struggling to enjoy the same reception that greeted the Razr, and the Motofone may not be available until 2007.

After a shaky first half of the year, Samsung recorded a healthy third quarter with sales accounting for more than 30 million units. Thanks to products such as the D900 and E900, Samsung was able to regain second place in the markets in Western Europe, and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Samsung has won consumers back thanks to finding a more personal approach to design and features and by embracing the trend for slim devices,” Milanesi said.

“Sony Ericsson had an exceptional quarter selling 19.4 million units in the third quarter of 2006 and gaining one percentage point year-on-year,” Milanesi explained. “The company’s success was a result of building a wider portfolio of successful products rather than counting on a single product. It also focused on better planning to avoid the supply problems that have limited its potential in the past.”

In a telephone interview with Wednesday, Milanesi said all eyes are on Moto which is losing out to Sony Ericsson in terms of brand recognition. “Motorolla is way ahead on sales but Sony Ericsson is doing so well… because of the Walkman.”

Milanesi said that 2007 will see a downturn in mobile manufacturer fortunes “by between 10 and 20 per cent… which is in line with previous predictions.”

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