Nokia, Ericsson and Siemens all saw declines in handset shipments for the quarter, compared with the same period last year, while Samsung and Motorola experienced slight increases.
Delays to service availability have contributed to the downturn. GPRS terminals have not developed as quickly as many in the mobile phone industry had expected, said Byran Prohm, a senior analyst at Dataquest's mobile communications research group. Consumers have opted to delay buying a new handset until the faster and more reliable GPRS networks are widely available.
Companies such as Nokia and Ericsson, which have focused on developing GPRS handsets, have seen their GSM market share erode to newcomers, Prohm said.
As a result, the market in western Europe has stagnated, with shipments falling between the second and third quarters of 2001, said Ben Wood, a senior analyst at Dataquest.
This is the first time shipments of mobile phones have ever fallen between quarters in a single year, said Wood.
Dataquest reported earlier this year that mobile phone shipments had fallen year-over-year in the second quarter, also attributing the decline to a weak European market.
Nokia sold the most mobile phones in the third quarter of 2001, shipping 31.5m units. This is down from 32.4m units in the third quarter of 2000. Samsung experienced the most growth, with an increase of just over three million handsets among its GSM and time division multiple access (TDMA) products.