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One Billion Mobile Phones Shipped Globally

By 2010 annual mobile handset shipments will have increased by almost 25 percent, reaching a figure in excess of 1.4 billion units worldwide -- according to a recent market study by Understanding & Solutions.

Last year, over 1.1 billion units were shipped globally, with the majority of growth coming from emerging markets, particularly India and Africa, where the upsurge was pegged at more than 20 percent.

"Despite a saturated subscriber base in Western Europe, the USA and Japan, we are still seeing growth in these regions," says David Sidebottom, a consultant with Understanding & Solutions. "In no small part, that's down to the mobile phone's role as a fashion accessory, with new handset designs and advanced features encouraging consumers to upgrade early.

"Consequently, we're seeing a marked shift towards mid and high end handsets in developed regions, and the emergence of new form factors to stimulate the market. This has had a significant effect on the smartphone segment, which grew by over 50 percent in 2007, with Nokia and Apple leading the charge in bringing these multimedia devices to the consumer market."

Japan is at the forefront of handset innovation and feature penetration where 3G, cameras, audio playback and email access are now available in around 80 percent of handsets shipped. Western Europe and the USA will both catch up on many handset features, though email access is not expected to reach such high levels, particularly in Western Europe.

However, by 2011 the handset market will begin to stabilize,with growth coming from emerging markets and small declines expected in some of the more developed regions.

"With advanced features and multimedia functionality moving mainstream, handset manufacturers are looking towards content services as a keystone for future strategies," continues Sidebottom.

"These market moves, together with fixed/mobile technologies such as Wi-Fi and WiMax could soon begin to affect the operator's role in content delivery."

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