February 9, 2007 Just a few days ago in our article on the exciting prospect of Near Field Communication capabilities for the mobile phone, we wrote that global mobile phone sales were heading for a billion units a year. We were wrong - according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global mobile phone shipments in 2006 grew a healthy 25 percent year-over-year, to reach an all-time record total of 1 billion units in 2006. Mobile phone sales have exploded from less than 100,000 units in 1983 to 100 million units in 1997 and have now passed the 1-billion level in 2006. Given there are only 6.5 billion people on Planet Earth, that means one in 6.5 humans (regardless of age, poverty or location), purchased a new phone last year. "Mobile phones have become a critical driver of innovation and profit for the world's semiconductor, memory, battery and display industries”, according to the Strategy Analytics. Nokia (347.5 million handsets sold) and Motorola (217.4 million) continued to dominate volumes, but it was Sony Ericsson who shone brightest. Growth, volumes, revenues and total profits are all at their highest ever levels for the Japanese-Swedish company which grew volumes from 51.1 million in 2005 to 74.8 million in 2006. In doing so, it became the world's third largest handset vendor (in revenues) overtaking Samsung.
Strategy Analytics forecasts 12 percent shipment growth during 2007, for 1.14 billion units. Emerging markets, notably India and Africa, will continue to be the main engines for volume, but not profit, growth.