The worldwide market for mobile phones is outstripping even the most enthusiastic predictions from the beginning of the year, according to research released by Gartner.
in the third quarter of this year more than 132.8 million units were sold, up 22% from last year's third-quarter shipments of 108.8 million units, said Gartner analyst Ben Wood. The figures were calculated the figures using the number of units sold to end users, rather than units shipped into the channel.
"The total market is on fire," he said. "We had predicted about 470 million units for the year, but it's going to be about 500 million," he added.
Mature mobile phone markets such as western Europe and the US are going through a replacement cycle as consumers with older black-and-white phones are trading them in for new models with colour screens and cameras. "We're getting to a point where a mobile phone is as much about fashion as anything," said Wood.
Emerging markets, such as China and India, are also growing faster than expected with millions of new subscribers purchasing their first mobile phones.
Nokia lost a little market share in the quarter, but still commands the worldwide market with sales of 45.4 million units in the third quarter, good for 34.2% market share. Unit sales increased from the 38.6 million units sold in the third quarter of last year, but not as fast as the overall market.
Motorola sold 19.5 million units in the third quarter to rank in second place worldwide with 14.7% market share. The company also sold more units compared with last year, but lost a percentage point of market share.
Samsung picked up market share at the expense of Nokia and Motorola, selling 14.8 million units in the quarter and increasing its market share from 10.5% in last year's third quarter to 11.2% in this year's third quarter.
Siemens, in fourth place, picked up market share with its sales of 12.1 million units in the quarter, up from last year's third-quarter market share of 7.4% to this year's third-quarter market share of 9.1%.
For some companies, demand is outpacing their ability to keep their customers supplied. Motorola is working with additional suppliers to find components for its newest camera phones, which have been in short supply because of sourcing problems.
Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service