Global mobile phone sales surpassed 167 million units in the third quarter of 2004, representing a 26 per cent increase from the same period in 2003, according to research from Gartner.
"Historically, the third quarter is seldom strong," said Carolina Milanesi, analyst for mobile terminals research at Gartner.
"The industry expected sales to be flat in preparation for Christmas demand. However, all regions apart from Japan registered year-on-year growth."
Milanesi added that the availability of new handset models and decreasing prices fuelled replacement sales in mature markets such as Western Europe and North America.
Market leader Nokia regained ground and raised its market share above 30 per cent after two consecutive quarters of declining market share.
Gartner principal analyst Ben Wood said: "Nokia breaking back through the 30 per cent market share barrier will be an important psychological boost after a disappointing start to the year.
"Nokia must maintain this positive momentum and address shortcomings in the CDMA market to ensure that it sustains its position."
Samsung enjoyed a very strong quarter and overtook Motorola to become the second biggest mobile terminal vendor worldwide.
"Samsung's move into second place was a result of strong global performance, delivering an increasing spectrum of products based on multiple technologies," said Wood.
"It performed particularly well in North America. Despite this, it remains neck and neck between Motorola and Samsung for second place as 2004 comes to an end."
Motorola slipped to third position but remained the market leader in North America, boosted by the strength of the Integrated Digital Enhanced Network market.
Gartner suggested that the inventory Motorola built in the channel at the end of this quarter puts it in a good position to fight back for second position in the fourth quarter.
Siemens recovered from a slip in the second quarter and grew its market share to 7.6 per cent. The company surprised the market with a particularly good quarter in the Americas, nearly doubling its market share in North America.
LG Electronics had a positive quarter and regained fifth place from Sony Ericsson.
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