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Mobile phone sales pass 800 million

Global shipments of cell phones will climb to 850 million in 2006--and Nokia still leads pack.

Global shipments of cell phones could hit the billion mark in the not-so-distant future.

Approximately 812.5 million cell phones left factories last year, a 14 percent increase over the 713 million shipped in 2004, according to research firm iSuppli. That means that roughly one out of every six people on the globe bought a phone during the year.

In the fourth quarter alone, 241.5 million phones were shipped, slightly higher than the 239 million the research firm predicted.

In 2006, global cell phone shipments will climb to 850 million units, iSuppli predicted.

Nokia remained on top of the pack, shipping 265 million phones in 2005, a 27.6 percent increase over 2004. Nokia now occupies 32.6 percent of the market. Motorola, on the strength of its Razr phone, held onto the second spot with 18 percent of the market. Motorola's shipments grew by 39.7 percent last year.

Samsung, meanwhile, fell behind a bit. Although the South Korean giant briefly overtook Motorola in the No. 2 spot early in the year, it subsequently lagged. Samsung grew by 18.8 percent to see its market share climb marginally from 12.1 percent to 12.7 percent.

Cell phones dwarfed PCs in shipments last year. Approximately 208.6 million PCs shipped in 2005, according to IDC. In some nations, the phone-to-PC ratio is drastic. The telecommunications regulatory authority in the United Arab Emirates estimates that 91 percent of the residents there have cell phones while only 19 percent have PCs.