Industry watcher Gartner, in a report released Thursday, showed how a single product can swing a company's fortunes. In this case, it was the ultrathin cell phone, released in July and originally intended for the. But, in a pleasant surprise for Motorola, sales really took off in September, when the Razr proved to have a much wider appeal. More than a million of the slim handsets have been sold.
Motorola hopes to get an even bigger boost in the next few weeks with the release of a Razr capable of playing songs distributed by Apple Computer's popular iTunes service.
As Samsung and Motorola flip-flopped position, perennial No. 1 Nokia lost 4 percent of its market share during 2004, according to the report. The Finnish handset maker's shortage of lower-priced phones early in 2004 helped Motorola, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson gain market share. But Nokia rebounded strongly, and crept back over the 30 percent mark by year's end, according to Gartner. No. 2 Motorola has a 15.4 percent share while Samsung, which barely edged out Motorola briefly last year, came in with 12.6 percent.
"Nokia stabilized its market share at the end of 2004, after the challenges of the first two quarters," Gartner principal analyst Ben Wood said in a statement. "It must regain the initiative in terms of brand and technology leadership in the face of strong competition."
Overall, 674 million cell phones were sold worldwide in 2004, a 30 percent increase from the year before. Gartner credited the increase in part to emerging cell phone markets in Latin America. Growth is expected to remain robust in 2005, with Gartner predicting 730 million cell phone sales.