Mobile phone sales are falling as the market becomes saturated, according to the latest figures from Gartner Dataquest.
Global sales dipped below 400 million units in 2001, the first decline in the history of the industry.
The mobile phone market had a 60 per cent average growth rate between 1996 and 2000, but has now seen sales to consumers decline by 3.2 per cent, to 399.6 million mobile phones last year.
Senior Gartner analyst Bryan Prohm said European markets are saturated, and the removal of subsidies by telecoms operators coupled with a burgeoning second-hand market has slowed the industry.
Handset manufacturers have failed to introduce new features that could convince consumers to replace their old unit, according to the report.
GPRS, seen as a stepping stone to third-generation (3G) services, has also been ignored by customers with network operators failing to convince users of its benefits, Gartner said.
Nokia has recovered all the ground it lost earlier in the year, grabbing more than 36.9 per cent of the market in the fourth quarter, up from 33.4 per cent in the third quarter.
Motorola halted its decline and ended the year with a market share of 14.8 per cent, against 14.6 per cent in 2000.
Siemens moved into third, overtaking Ericsson, which was also overtaken by Samsung.
Smaller players like Samsung have done extremely well with a fourth-quarter market share of 7.9 per cent, mostly because of its successful clamshell A300 phone.
Ericsson however was the biggest loser, ending the year with a meagre 5.5 per cent fourth-quarter market share, down from 10 per cent last year. This is despite the success of its colour-display GSM phone, the T68.
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