Nokia still tops but Sony Ericsson gains ground

30 Jan 2007

Nokia has solidified its No 1 position among mobile phone makers, according to new research, but the best performer last year was Sony Ericsson.

Market data from the US firm iSuppli found that Nokia shipped more handsets than its next two closest competitors combined, Motorola and Samsung. Sony Ericsson was the standout player last year with more than 15pc growth in the first, second and third quarters of this year. In Q4 it posted the largest quarter-over-quarter growth of all mobile phone makers, as shipments rose 61.5pc to 26 million units.

Nokia leads the market by a considerable distance, said iSuppli. The Finnish company shipped 348 million units in 2006, compared to combined shipments of 335.3 million units for Motorola and Samsung.

Nokia’s home base of Europe appears to be supporting one of its own: the region showed the highest growth and volume for the company and accounted for nearly 32pc of its shipments in the fourth quarter. In the final three months of the year, Nokia shipped 106 million units, up from 83.7 million during the same period in 2005.

It wasn’t all bad news for the other players: Motorola’s mobile handset shipments grew significantly in 2006, up by 48.6pc to 217.4 million units for the calendar year. The main reason for this performance, said iSuppli, was the marketing campaign for Motorola’s range of slimline RAZR phones, which triggered a ‘thin’ trend among competitors.

Samsung and LG both saw sales declines in Asia, which led to inventory buildups that the companies must deal with in the first quarter of 2007. According to iSuppli, LG in particular suffered from these problems and consequently dropped a place in the rankings to fifth.

Sony Ericsson, which stated in its recent results that it wants to break into the top three, will have been cheered by iSuppli’s findings. Its research showed that in the fourth quarter of last year, Sony Ericsson was just 5.9 million units short of Samsung’s total of 31.9 million.

By Gordon Smith