Worldwide mobile phone sales hit $115.5bn in 2006, with Wi-Fi phone sales topping $535m, up a staggering 327 per cent from 2005, new research has reported.
Analyst firm Infonetics Research said that falling prices will further spur demand for both mobile and Wi-Fi VoIP phones in 2007.
Worldwide shipments of mobile handsets jumped 27 per cent between 2005 and 2006, and single- and dual-mode Wi-Fi handsets together jumped 489 per cent.
Shipments of mobile handsets for the four years from 2007 to 2010 are forecast to increase 26 per cent, and Wi-Fi handsets are forecast to increase nearly 1,300 per cent.
The fastest growing segment in the market by far is the dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular VoIP phone, where worldwide units are shipping at a "phenomenal rate".
Infonetics forecasts a five-year compound annual growth rate of 198 per cent between 2006 and 2010 for this market alone.
"Users are demanding single number/single device services, and operators like T-Mobile announced converged services based on Unlicensed Mobile Access in 2006," said Richard Webb, directing analyst for wireless at Infonetics.
"More operators are transforming into integrated multimedia service providers, creating converged mobile, wireless Lan and VoIP solutions that support voice and data services across enterprise, public and home networks.
"The appeal of such converged services is driving Wi-Fi phone adoption, especially in dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular handsets."
According to Infonetics, 2G/2.5G GSM handsets made up 49 per cent of worldwide mobile phone revenue in 2006. The remainder was made up by 2G CDMA, W-CDMA, and CDMA2000 handset sales.
Worldwide mobile subscribers were estimated at 2.5 billion in 2006, up 26 per cent from 2005, and forecast to grow 42 per cent to 3.6 billion in 2010.
Some 47 per cent of all mobile subscribers come from Asia Pacific, 36 per cent from EMEA, nine per cent from North America, and eight per cent from Central America/Latin America.
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