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Nokia distances itself from the pack

The front-running cell phone maker put more distance between it and the rest of the pack in 2000, a year that saw a 45 percent increase in sales worldwide.

Front-running cell phone maker Nokia put more distance between it and the rest of the pack in 2000, a year that despite forecasts of a draconian slowdown still saw a 45 percent increase in sales worldwide, according to a new study.

There were 412.7 million cell phones sold last year, which was about 6 million less than originally estimated, according to market researcher Dataquest.

Although the situation may be more dire in 2001, with leaders such as Nokia lowering sales forecasts, 2000 wasn't as bad as has been perceived, said Bryan Prohm, a Dataquest senior analyst.

"Six million is pretty negligible. But there were signs of a slowdown at the end of 2000," he said. "That could carry over to 2001. We're already seeing inventories building up for more than a month."

Nokia, which was the No. 1 cell phone maker in 1999, captured more market share in 2000, with all but Siemens and Samsung losing ground, according to statistics.

Nokia's 126.4 million phones shipped captured a 30.6 percent market share in 2000, compared with its industry-leading 76.3 million cell phones shipped in 1999.

"They are the most productive and attractive, " Prohm said.

Second-place finisher was Motorola, which shipped 60 million phones giving it a 14.6 percent market share. It had a nearly 17 percent share in 1999, Dataquest said.

The third-place finisher was Ericsson, which shipped 41 million cell phones to capture a 10 percent market share, a half point less than last year.

Many analysts had predicted that Siemens would be sitting in the third spot. But instead it finished out of the money in fourth place, shipping nearly 27 million phones, compared with the 17 million shipped in 1999.