By Matthew Burgess
Disappointing handset sales posted by Nokia represent a blip in mobile uptake, which the roll-out later this year of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) technology devices is expected to reverse.
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Despite the Finnish company selling 128 million handsets last year, 64% more than in 1999, analyst expectations were closer to 140 million units. The shortfall saw Nokia shares plummet 19 per cent yesterday, wiping almost £25bn from the company’s value.
Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at Butler Group, believes the 'slowdown' is a blip rather than a symptom of a wider malaise in the mobile phone market. “The company expected to do more replacement phone business this year, but many of their customers are putting off buying new handsets until GPRS appears. I am confident that GPRS will provide a further boost when it launches” he said.
Mobile and e-commerce analyst for Ovum, Ann Walsh is also optimistic about Nokia’s prospects: “WAP and m-commerce, which have so far suffered from both a lack of applications and network capability, will benefit from the always-on nature of GPRS, and Nokia is well-placed to take advantage of this” she said.