Gartner: Mobile phone sales down 4% in Q1

Worldwide sales of mobile phones fell by 3.8% to 93.8 million units in the first three months of 2002 compared with the same...

Worldwide sales of mobile phones fell by 3.8% to 93.8 million units in the first three months of 2002 compared with the same quarter last year, according to a study by analyst group Gartner's Dataquest division.

Gartner Dataquest calculated market leader Nokia's market share at 34.7% with 32.5 million units sold in the first quarter. This represents a 2.9 percent decline in handset sales from the same period last year when the Finnish company sold 33.5 million units, a 34.4% share of the market.

Motorola, Samsung Electronics and Siemens all saw growth in market share, while newcomer Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications was able to sell 6 million units in the quarter giving it a 6.4% share of the mobile market, Gartner Dataquest said.

In particular, Samsung and Siemens made strong gains in the quarter. Samsung experienced unit sales growth of 48.6% to take 9.6% of the mobile market with 9 million units sold in the quarter compared to a 6.2% share on sales of 6.1 million in the first quarter of 2001, Gartner Dataquest said.

Gartner Dataquest attributed Samsung's growth to its success in delivering products that consumers found compelling while at the same time taking advantage of a number of technologies in a variety of markets.

Siemens, the Munich electronics and engineering giant, grew its unit sales 24.2% to hold 8.8% of the market with sales of 8.2 million units. This compared with a 6.8% market share in the first quarter of 2001 with sales of 6.6 million handsets, Gartner Dataquest said.

Siemens is poised to expand its maket share in 2002 with a competitive push in the North American and Latin American GSM markets, Gartner Dataquest said.

Despite the good news for Samsung and Siemens, the overall picture for the mobile devices market was one of decline due to market saturation - particularly in Western Europe - and customer hesitation over the purchase of newer data-capable phones, Gartner Dataquest said.

Consumers are not convinced that the benefits of data applications and services warrant the expense of upgrading their handsets, creating an "applications gap".

Last March, Gartner Dataquest reported mobile-phone sales for 2001 fell 3.2%, the first-ever decline in an industry that saw a compound annual growth rate of close to 60% between 1996 and 2000.

In the first quarter of 2002, the mobile markets in Western Europe and Latin America were especially sluggish with the two regions suffering declines in year-on-year sales for the second year running, Gartner Dataquest said.

Conversely, the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, beat expectations with a year-on-year increase of 8% in the first quarter and an even better 12% growth spurt when compared to the fourth quarter of 2001.

On a brighter note, mobile shipments into the channel totalled 90.3 million units in the first quarter of 2002, up 11.8% from the first quarter of 2001, Gartner Dataquest said. The stronger "sell-in" was attributed to subscriber growth in Russia and other emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, boosting retail sales and creating "a healthier global inventory situation".

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