Mobiles move on up in Europe

Nokia and HP take top spots as shipments of smart phones, handhelds and other mobile devices shoot up in the second quarter.

Shipments of mobile voice and data gadgets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa rose a whopping 52 percent year over year in the second quarter, according to new figures from market research firm Canalys.

Roughly 2.58 million mobile devices were shipped in the three months to the end of June, compared with approximately 1.7 million in the same period in 2003, the company said in a report released Tuesday.

In the voice-device segment, which includes smart phones, Nokia accounted for around 80 percent of all new handsets shipped in the quarter. That left single-digit crumbs to rival phone makers such as Sony Ericsson and Siemens. The cumulative growth for the voice segment was 57 percent.

In the handheld niche, HP retained its supremacy for the fourth quarter in a row, with year-on-year growth of 64 percent, for a market share of just over 28 percent. PalmOne's share dropped to about 20 percent, with shipments falling 16 percent.

The highest growth was reserved for wireless handhelds, although total shipments were small. Unit volume shipments in the sector increased by 200 percent, riding on an impressive 230 percent rise in shipments achieved by Research In Motion and on 154 percent growth by T-Mobile in the quarter.

"This demonstrates that there is still significant potential in the handheld market in EMEA, despite the negative news coming from other worldwide regions," Canalys Director Chris Jones said in a statement.

Lesser-known brands have started to make a larger impact than established names such as Toshiba and Dell, Jones added.

While the impressive growth in wireless handhelds might tempt manufacturers to jump in, Jones warned companies against entering the market unprepared. Having a good product is only the first step, he said, and building relationships with carriers is the key.

"It is only the operators themselves and RIM, which has adopted a very operator-centric channel approach, who have had any kind of success in this segment," Jones said.

The study also showed that the Symbian operating system, promoted by a consortium including Nokia, still rules in more than 94 percent of smart phones in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The share for Microsoft's competing software dropped back to around 4 percent after a relatively good first quarter, while the share for PalmSource, used in PalmOne's Treo 600, notched up to just under 2 percent.

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