251 million mobiles sold in third quarter

24 Nov 2006

More than 251 million mobile phones were sold worldwide during the third quarter of this year, up 21.5pc on the same quarter last year. Sales were driven in particular by first-time buyers of mobile phones in emerging markets.

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 sold in the fourth quarter of 2006.

“Although sales of replacement handsets in more mature markets during the third quarter 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 mobile terminals research at Gartner.

“We have also started to see increasing sales of replacement models in some emerging markets which helped push up total sales in the third quarter.”

Milanesi continued: “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 68pc of worldwide mobile sales in the third quarter of 2006.”

Nokia retained its worldwide No 1 position with 35.1pc market share, gaining 2.6 percentage points compared to the same period last year.

While Motorola increased its worldwide market share in the third quarter of 2006, the company experienced challenges in some regions. The Krzr is struggling to enjoy the same reception that greeted the Razr and the Motofone may not be available until 2007. Christmas might not be so jolly for Motorola in some markets, Gartner suggested.

After a shaky first half of the year, Samsung recorded a healthy third quarter with sales accounting for more than 30 million units. “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 added. “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.”

The success of LG’s KG800 Chocolate started to melt away this quarter leaving the manufacturer further behind Sony Ericsson in the worldwide ranking. LG needs to expand its portfolio quickly to move up from fifth place.

BenQ declared that it was stopping payments to its German subsidiary, BenQ Mobile, at the end of September 2006, barely a year after its formation from Siemens’ handset business. BenQ Mobile in Germany has filed for insolvency. In the three months before, it recorded sales of slightly more than 6 million units.

By John Kennedy