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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 23:23 GMT 00:23 UK
Mobiles head for sales milestone
Samsung SPH A800
Increasingly phones will offer a lot more
One billion mobile phones will be sold in 2009, according to analysts.

Research firm Gartner said that the world's appetite for mobile phones had exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.

"Mobile phones could go on to be the most common consumer electronics device on the planet," said Gartner analyst Ben Wood.

By the end of 2009, some 2.6 billion mobiles will be in regular use around the world, Gartner predicts.

The findings are based on a study that looked at sales figures from 62 countries around the globe.

Survival of the fittest

It is expected that some 779 million mobile handsets will be sold by the end of this year, 50 million of which will be smartphones.

Mobile phone in Senegal
In sub-Saharan Africa phones will be small, simple and with very good battery life
Ben Wood, Gartner
Sales of smartphones represent the fastest growing area in the mobile market and some 280 million will be sold in 2009, according to Gartner.

Prices of handsets are likely to fall and while this is good news for consumers, the future for phone manufacturers is less certain.

"The technology inside phones has increased at an astonishing rate but prices haven't reflected this," said Mr Wood.

With some manufacturers already facing difficulties in certain countries, it will be survival of the fittest.

"Vendors not selling 10 million phones a year will definitely struggle," he said.

Global differences

The nature of the mobile in our pocket is likely to evolve.

In mature markets such as the UK, Germany and the US there will be more mobiles catering to specific functionality, whether it be music, photography or video.

And in less developed markets phones will again be targeted to specific needs.

"In sub-Saharan Africa phones will be small, simple and with very good battery life," said Mr Wood.

By 2009, Asia/Pacific will account for a third of all mobile sales.

"China and India alone will account for nearly 200 million units in 2007, with the Indian market surpassing China in 2009 to reach 139 million units," said Gartner analyst Ann Liang.

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