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Nokia dominating smart-phone market, study says

First-quarter figures show that the Finnish company leads the market for advanced handhelds, but its success varies greatly by region.

    The latest figures for global sales of advanced handhelds show Nokia out in the lead, though market shares vary greatly when broken down by region, according to data released Tuesday by Canalys.

    First-quarter data from the market research company shows the overall market--which includes devices such as smart phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants)--grew 41 percent compared with the same period last year. But while Nokia leads in Europe, at 48 percent, with products such as its 6600 phone, it accounts for only a quarter of devices shipped in North America and Asia-Pacific.

    In contrast, PalmOne, with devices such as its Treo 600 smart phone, has only around 1 percent sales share in Europe but 37 percent share in North America.

    The research found strong growth in sales of smart phones, outstripping the PDA market, which is dominated by devices such as Palm handhelds, Hewlett-Packard iPaqs and Sony Clies. The PDA market is still growing, however.

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    Software makers are also affected by these trends. For example, Symbian, which is closely aligned with the smart-phone plans of Fujitsu and Nokia, dominated European shipments in the first quarter with a 60 percent share. But the company registers just 6 percent in North America, where PalmSource comes in with 47 percent and Microsoft with 28 percent.

    In Asia-Pacific, Linux accounts for the brains on 14 percent of device shipments.

    In separate research also released Tuesday, Enpocket, a maker of marketing software for mobile devices, found that 3G, or third-generation, services are only being used by about 3 percent of mobile customers in the United Kingdom. Additionally, of those who do have 3G phones, only about 40 percent make use of 3G services.

    The survey of 1,000 people also identified a gender divide. Female users are more likely to download ring tones, while the gaming market is skewed toward boys and men under the age of 24, according to the research.

    Tony Hallett of Silicon.com reported from London.