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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
US growth aids Nokia mobile share
Model displays the new Nokia 7380 model
Nokia says it is pleased with its new products
Strong sales in North America and Asia have helped Nokia extend its leadership of the global mobile handset market.

Unit sales increased 40% in the first quarter of 2006 compared to last year, enabling the Finnish firm to grow its share of global sales from 32% to 35%.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Nokia and Motorola control 53% of the global market between them.

Strategy Analytics said total mobile phone sales worldwide could top one billion in 2006 for the first time.

Market leader

In a slightly more conservative forecast, Nokia said it predicted global sales would rise 15% this year to about 915 million units.

Nokia has recovered strongly over the past eighteen months after weak sales in Europe knocked its business in 2004.

Nokia: 33%
Motorola: 20%
Samsung: 13%
LG: 7%
Sony Ericsson: 6%
Source: Strategy Analytics

Success in emerging markets has fuelled Nokia's growth so far this year, although the company has also performed spectacularly well in the US, nearly doubling its mobile phone sales in North America since last year.

North American sales rose 95% to 8.4 million units while sales in Asia-Pacific and China rose 55% and 54% respectively for the first quarter of 2006.

At a group level, first quarter profits rose 21% to 1.04bn euros ($1.2bn; 720m) from 863m euros on revenues up 29% at 9.5bn euros.

Robust sales

Nokia's boss said it had reinforced its number one position in the market.

"A robust market coupled with our strong product portfolio and excellent execution produced outstanding results in a seasonally challenging first quarter," said chief executive Jorma Ollila.

In an independent report, Strategy Analytics said Nokia's market share was now 33%, well ahead of its closest rival Motorola with 20%.

In the firm's opinion, the two companies are "starting to run away with the global handset market" at the expense of all other rivals.

It is forecasting 22% growth in total handset sales this year, driven by strong demand for mobile phones in China, India and across Africa.

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