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Mobile sales fall for first time

Bullish industry hears bum note

Mobile phone sales fell 3.2 percent last year, the first ever decline in an industry that saw a compound annual growth rate of close to 60 percent between 1996 and 2000, according to a survey released today.

Nearly 399.6 million mobile phones were sold in 2001, compared with over 412.7 million in 2000, according to Dataquest, which is part of the grand Gartner empire.

Handset makers faced a tougher market, especially here in Europe, as mobile phone operators cut subsidies on handsets and started selling subscriptions and prepaid service without phones, fuelling the market for used handsets.

It seems that the hype surrounding the approach of high-speed mobile services as well as the economic slump has led buyers to postpone handset replacement plans, according to Dataquest.

High growth rates in the mobile phone market won't return as quickly as they disappeared, with grim prospects for the first half of 2002.

Colour screens on mobile phones may be a catalyst for replacement sales in the latter half of the year, according to Dataquest.

But the attrition was good news for Nokia, the company on top at the moment, which managed to extend its market share and sell 10.5 percent more phones than in 2000 even while the overall market declined.


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