iPhone imitators prepping for their close-ups

The Nokia Tube and others bob and weave for market advantage

How well the Tube does will also depend on how well other iPhone imitators do, including the upcoming HTC Touch Diamond, already available in some markets outside the US, Research In Motion's Bold and the RIM Thunder.

Given what is known so far about the Tube, Milanesi predicted it would be aimed more at consumers than business users, in contrast to the iPhone 3G's appeal to both kinds of users.

There is also going to be pressure from the Android phone, rumored to be coming from HTC first on T-mobile networks in the US.

"Everybody wants to have that iconic device like the iPhone," Milanesi said. "IPhone has definitely created a bar for all to get to, and that includes everybody: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG and Samsung."

Milanesi, in a Gartner report released this week, said consumers in developed markets such as the US and Europe favor midtier devices over high-end ones. She noted second-quarter sales of all kinds of mobile phones of nearly 305 million, or about 12 percent more than the 272.6 million in sales for the same quarter in 2007. Nokia led with 120 million, or nearly 40 percent of the market; Samsung was second with 46 million phones sold, or 15 percent; Motorola was third with 30 million sold, or 10 percent; LG was fourth with 26.7 million, or nearly 9 percent, and Sony Ericsson was fifth, with 23 million phones sold and 7.5 percent of the market.

Milanesi repeated an earlier projection that mobile phone sales will be 11 percent higher in 2008 than in 2007, although she said the slowing economy will put pressure on vendors to lower their average selling prices.

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