Mobile phone sales reached record levels in 2005

Mobile phone sales rose 21 percent to 817 million in 2005, according to market analyst Gartner.

Mid-size manufacturers are being squeezed out of the worldwide mobile phone market, even though it grew by 21 percent in 2005, market analyst Gartner said Tuesday.

At the start of the year, the six largest manufacturers controlled 78 percent of the market, but by the fourth quarter their share had increased to 84 percent, allowing them to profit from economies of scale, Gartner said. Smaller manufacturers, on the other hand, are retreating to well-defined niche markets.

Mobile phone sales totalled 235.1 million in the fourth quarter -- over a third of them from Nokia, with 35 percent of the market, up from 33 percent a year earlier. Motorola followed with 17.8 percent of the market, up from 16.3 percent, then Samsung Electronics Co. with 12.1 percent, down from 12.2 percent.

None of the other manufacturers had more than 10 percent of the market. Siemens's market share dropped sharply over the year as it sold its mobile phone manufacturing division to Benq, which still manufactures some phones under the Siemens name.

In Europe and Asia, Nokia outsells its nearest rival two to one, and in Eastern Europe the proportion rises to three to one, Gartner said, while in Asia, Motorola overtook Samsung as the second-best-selling brand.

For the full year, sales totalled 816.6 million and Nokia's share rose to 32.5 percent from 30.7 percent. Motorola followed, with 17.7 percent (up from 15.4 percent), then came Samsung with 12.7 percent (up from 12.6 percent).

The availability of fashion phones, notably the Siemens CL75 Poppy, which has a flower motif on the case, and the pink version of the Motorola RAZR V3 drove customers in Western Europe to replace their phones, Gartner said. In Japan, replacement phone sales were driven by a switch to phones with built-in music players, the analyst said.

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