The worldwide mobile phone market reached a new milestone at the close of 2006 with more than one billion units shipped worldwide over the year, new research has reported.
IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker said that vendors shipped a total of 1.019 billion units in 2006, or 22.5 per cent more than the 832.8 million in 2005.
Vendors shipped 294.9 million units in the quarter ending 31 December 2006, 19.7 per cent more than the 246.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2005. This also marked a record shipment volume for a single quarter.
"Emerging markets contributed to the high volume sales," said Ramon Llamas, a research analyst in IDC's Mobile Technology and Tracking team.
"It was not long ago that shipments into mature markets, including Japan, North America and Western Europe, consumed the majority of devices shipped worldwide.
"More recently, however, device shipments into emerging economies in Asia/Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America have surpassed shipments to mature markets, and the difference between the two continues to grow."
IDC expects this trend to continue as mature markets reach saturation, and as emerging markets with much lower "teledensity" provide opportunities for handset vendors to attract first-time users.
"In addition, the time to set up a mobile network is much shorter and less expensive than the time to set up a landline network, propelling cellphone shipments further," said Llamas.
"Finally, mobile phones are seen as both a practical necessity and a status symbol in many emerging markets.
"Together, these economic, technological and social conditions will continue to drive strong demand for mobile handsets in emerging markets for some time to come."
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