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Cell phone sales keep booming

Nokia holds on to its No. 1 position, as new buyers and upgraders stoke demand for handsets.

Despite a practically saturated Western European market, cell phone sales are still booming worldwide, driven by longtime owners clamoring to update their phones and new buyers wanting to get on the phone-owning ladder, according to a new report.

Global mobile sales for the second quarter of this year rose by 35 per cent, compared with the same period last year, research firm Gartner said in its quarterly review of phone sales.

In Europe, the natural replacement cycle for people who got their first phones in 2000 or 2001 means that it's now time for them to switch to color screen camera phones, Gartner said.

Further afield, the nascent market in Latin America is driving sales, with Brazil and Mexico leading the way. Argentina is beginning to see some green shoots of economic recovery, which is favoring some of the mobile players.

Nokia keeps the slot at the top of the vendor tree, having sold more than 46 million handsets in the second quarter--almost double the amount of its nearest rival. However, its quarter-on-quarter market share has fallen from nearly 36 percent in 2003 to almost 30 percent this year.

Motorola took the No. 2 slot with a market share of 14.5 percent, and Samsung followed behind with just more than 10 percent.

That leadership board could significantly change before the end of the year. Gartner analyst Ben Wood said the research firm was expecting Samsung to pose a serious challenge for second place during the rest of 2004.

Jo Best of reported from London.