Sony Ericsson gains on Nokia

The handset maker shipped a record number of phones in the first quarter--bumping up its share of the market and its optimism for the cell phone market as a whole.

Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Ben Charny
No. 5 handset maker Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications said Monday that it grabbed more share of the worldwide market by shipping a record 8.8 million phones during its first quarter.

Sony Ericsson said its recent successes are due to "strong" sales of middle- and upper-tier cell phones--a sector of the market traditionally dominated by the world's No. 1 cell phone maker, Nokia.

But a Sony Ericsson representative still ranked the company fifth in the world in terms of overall shipments, behind Siemens AG, Samsung, Motorola and Nokia.

Sony Ericsson is the second major handset maker in a week to report gaining market share. Samsung Electronics believes its cell phone division has been gaining directly from Nokia. Samsung's net profit nearly tripled during its recently completed first quarter.

Nokia Chief Executive Jorma Ollila has dismissed any concerns that the Finnish industrial giant's longtime No. 1 status is in any danger. Indeed, Nokia still sells more than a third of the world's cell phones.

But during a conference call last week, he said competitors are taking short-term advantage of "holes" in Nokia's lineup of middle-tier cell phones.

"There is a major midtier market and, since we have those holes, our customers can't move from low end to midtier," he said.

Sony Ericsson on Monday also bumped up its overall global sales forecast by 30 million, to 550 million, citing an "overall strong mobile phone market."