Global Mobile Phone Sales Grew 65 Percent in '99

STOCKHOLM (02/09/2000) - Nokia Corp., the world's leading mobile phone supplier, expanded its lead over second-placed Motorola Inc. as worldwide sales reached almost 284 million units in 1999, a healthy 65 percent increase over the previous year, according to a new report released yesterday.

Europe in 1999 retained its position as the world's largest regional market for mobile phones, but the Asia-Pacific region surpassed the U.S. to grab second place, said Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Group Inc., in a statement. The Latin American market grew the fastest however, with shipments increasing by 103 percent over 1998.

Despite all the hoopla surrounding WAP (wireless application protocol) and other Internet and data-enabling wireless technologies, growth in unit sales was fuelled by entry-level handsets, Dataquest said. The trend towards data-enhanced handsets, however, should not be dismissed as mere hype, the statement said.

Nokia shipped a total of 76.3 million mobile phones last year, giving it almost 27 percent market share, ahead of Motorola's 47.8 million units and 17 percent market share, Dataquest said.

While Nokia almost doubled its shipments, which grew by nearly 98 percent year on year, Motorola lost some ground as shipments grew slower than the overall market at just over 43 percent, Dataquest said.

The Dataquest figures were largely in line with Nokia's own estimates. The Espoo, Finland-based vendor last week said its mobile phone shipments reached 78.5 million units in 1999, out of a total of 275 million handsets shipped worldwide. [See "Strong Handset Sales Boost Nokia's 1999 Results," Feb. 1.]Third-ranked L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., meanwhile, lost over four percent market share, shipping 29.8 million units in 1999 for a 10.5 percent market share, while fourth-placed Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea, saw shipments grow by a whopping 277 percent to almost 17.7 million units, giving it a market share of 6.2 percent.

Samsung was able to rapidly increase its market share on strong sales of CDMA (code division multiple access) handsets in its home market and the Americas, as well as a good performance in the GSM (Global Systems for Mobile Communications) markets in Asia and Europe, Dataquest said.

The South Korean vendor was followed by Panasonic, one of the brands owned by Japanese consumer electronics giant Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. Ltd., with a market share of 5.5 percent on shipments of 15.6 million handsets.

Dataquest, a unit of Gartner Group located in Stamford, Connecticut, can be contacted at +1 203-964-0096, or at

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