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Sony Ericsson takes No. 4 spot in handset shipments

Nokia remains No. 1, but Sony Ericsson shipments surpassed those of LG and gained on Samsung during fourth quarter.

Nokia is still the No. 1 mobile-handset manufacturer in the world, according to market researcher iSuppli.

Finland-based Nokia shipped 348 million units in 2006, giving it a sizable lead over Motorola, which holds the No. 2 spot, according to iSuppli. Motorola shipped 217.4 million units in 2006, a growth of 48.6 percent since 2005.

It was Sony Ericsson, however, that made the most notable gains in 2006.

Fourth-quarter shipments by the Japanese-Swedish handset maker grew 61.5 percent over the same period in 2005--the largest jump in units shipped recorded by the major handset makers, iSuppli said. Sony Ericsson's shipments grew from 16.1 million units to 26 million units for the fourth quarter, moving it into the overall No. 4 spot.

Sony Ericsson pushed LG Electronics into fifth place and shortened the gap between itself and Samsung for the No. 3 spot, according to iSuppli.

Samsung shipped only 5.9 million more units than Sony Ericsson in the 2006 fourth quarter. LG shipped 17 million units during that period, 9 million units fewer than Sony Ericsson.

LG shipped 64.4 million units total in 2006, which gave it only 17.4 percent growth over 2005, but the company hopes to regain its No. 4 place on the popularity of its fashion-oriented Chocolate and Shine cell phones, according to iSuppli.

Samsung showed a growth of 14.6 percent overall, shipping a total of 117.9 million units in 2006.