A new report from market research firm IDC finds that cell phone shipments during 2006 reached a new peak: more than one billion units shipped during the calendar year. According to IDC, the year’s 1.019 billion cell phones represents a 22.5 percent increase over 2005 shipments, and most of the credit goes to emerging markets rather than phone-saturated areas like North America, Japan, and western Europe.
“It was not long ago that shipments into mature markets, including Japan, North America, and Western Europe, consumed the majority of devices shipped worldwide,” said Ramon Llamas, research analyst in IDC’s Mobile Technology and Tracking team. “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.”
While mass market and entry-level handsets were a big part of the market’s overall growth during 2006, IDC also finds that location-based services (such as mapping and navigation packages) and so-called “pro-sumer” devices which integrate advanced features and smartphone capabilities are beginning to redefine the overall mobile phone market. IDC cites email capabilities, mobile video, and even mobile advertising as forces which will drive further growth during 2007.
IDC found the top five mobile phone vendors for 2006 were (in order) Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and LG Electronics.
On a side note, top mobile phone maker Nokia said this week that it has sold more than 30 million units of its mid-range 6230 mobile handset since its introduction in 2004, which may mark a bit of a turnaround for the company, which has traditionally done well with entry-level and high-end devices, but had weak mid-range devices which left market gaps able exploited by its rivals like Motorola, which has sold more than 75 million RAZR phones to date.