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Nokia Leads Sector, with Sony Ericsson Rising

Nokia Corp. expanded its leadership position in the mobile phone handset market in 2006, shipping more units than its next two closest competitors combined, according to iSuppli Corp.

However, the biggest waves in the market in 2006 were made by Sony Ericsson, which in the fourth quarter posted the largest quarter-over-quarter growth of all mobile phone makers, with shipments rising 61.5 percent to 26 million units, up from 16.1 million units during the same period in 2005.

The joint venture between consumer electronics giant Sony Corp. and telecommunications specialist Ericsson enjoyed a successful 2006, achieving more than 15 percent growth in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2006.

"Sony Ericsson is targeting its entire product line at the mid-to-high range of the market and just recently has started entering the emerging low-cost handset market," said Tina Teng, wireless communications analyst at iSuppli. "This has contributed to the company's accelerated growth in 2006. Plus, Sony Ericsson's products appeal to every regional market globally, because its camera- and music-enabled phones hit the sweet spot in terms of desirable handset features."

Sony Ericsson's shipments increased to 74.8 million units in 2006, up 46.4 percent from 51.1 million units in 2005. Nokia, for its part, is still the number one handset OEM by a wide margin, with unit shipments of 348 million in 2006. This compares to combined shipments of 335.3 million units for Nokia's two closest competitors -- Motorola and Samsung.

The company also shipped a staggering 106 million units in the fourth quarter of 2006, up from 83.7 million during the same period a year earlier. Nokia's highest growth and volume is coming from Europe, which accounted for nearly 32 percent of Nokia's shipments in the fourth quarter.

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