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2003 was record year for mobile phone shipments

Out of the doldrums?

Growing demand for handsets in Asia and Eastern Europe propelled the once stagnant mobile phone market to strong double-digit growth last year, market watcher IDC said today.

Some 533.4 million handsets shipped in 2003, up 23.3 per cent on the 432.7 million that shipped in 2002.

Fellow researcher Strategy Analytics put the cumulative 2003 total at 516 million, beating the record set in 2000, when 435 million handsets were shipped.

According to IDC, Q4 2003 was a particularly strong quarter, with shipments up 29.7 per cent on the same period the year before. The 167.8 million handsets shipped in the three months to 31 December 2003 was also 21.8 per cent higher than Q3 2003's total.

SA's Q4 total was, like the full year, lower than IDC's: 159 million units. However, it was still enough to become the biggest selling quarter of all time, the company said.

Smartphones grabbed the headline growth figure, with annual shipments up 181.6 per cent, according to IDC. But that figure masks the fact that only 1.8 per cent - some 9.6 million devices - of the year's tally of handset shipments were smartphones.

That said, Q4's proportion came in at 2.2 per cent - 3.7 million smartphones shipped in the quarter - suggesting that demand is growing, albeit slowly. That figure represents a 77.3 per cent increase over the previous quarter.

Worldwide Smartphone Vendors 2003
Rank Vendor 2003 Shipments 2003 Market Share
1 Nokia 5.45m 56.9%
2 Sony Ericsson 815,047 8.5%
3 Motorola 778,287 8.1%
4 RIM 490,263 5.1%
5 Samsung 284,803 3%
  Others 1.76m 18.4%
Source: IDC

Nokia dominated the smartphone, accounting for over half the units shipped, IDC's figures show. Overall, the Finnish vendor made a third (33.6 per cent) of all the handsets that shipped last year. However, that represents a dip on the 35 per cent share it achieved in 2002, despite as 18.3 per cent year-on-year increase in shipments. Nokia did achieve better-than-market performance during Q4, with shipments up 19.8 per cent year on year and 22.3 per cent above the previous quarter's figure.

Motorola's market share fell, too, but it retained its number two slot, shipping 1.5 per cent more handsets in 2003 than 2002. It took 14.1 per cent of the market. Samsung followed, with 9.9 per cent.

Worldwide Mobile Phone Vendors 2003
Rank Vendor 2003 Shipments 2003 Market Share
1 Nokia 179.34m 33.6%
2 Motorola 75.44m 14.1%
3 Samsung 53m 9.9%
4 Siemens 45.35m 8.5%
5 LG Electronics 27.5m 5.2%
  Others 152.73m 28.6%
Source: IDC

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