It seems that 2000 could have seen the end of the golden age for mobile phone makers.

Worldwide sales of mobile phones were up 45.5 percent in 2000, to 412.7 million units, according to research firm Gartner. But by year's end a long-rumoured sales slowdown had kicked in.

Leading the pack of mobile phone vendors was Nokia, with a market share of 30.6 percent. Motorola is in second place but only has half the sales of Nokia. Ericsson is third with a paltry 10 percent. This is most likely why Ericsson is now going to have its handsets made in countries that provide cheaper labour. [see our previous story]

Gartner called 2000 a "transitional year" for the mobile phone industry, with several factors pointing to harder times ahead. Global capacity has caught up with demand.

Further, the much-hoped-for boost in handset sales due to the introduction of models equipped for WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) did not come to fruition, Gartner said, as customers were largely unimpressed with the service.