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KhanPakis
08/07/2006, 05h58
Wednesday, 5 July 2006
Boom time for handset sales
by Aaron Greenwood



With cellular subscriptions booming across the region, vendors are lining up to capture a share of the lucrative Middle East mobile handset market.
The Middle East continues to impress as one of the world’s key emerging markets for cellular phone services, driving demand for handsets and related accessories across the region.

A new report from Arab Advisors Group found there were 85 million cellular service subscribers across the Middle East in 2005.

Bahrain recorded the highest cellular penetration rate at 105.8% followed by UAE (99%).

“The Arab cellular markets are growing at a high pace, while the fixed line markets are stagnating,” commented Serene Zawaydeh, an Arab Advisors Group consultant.

“In 2005, cellular operators added around 34 million subscribers while all the fixed line operators added a mere 2.4 million mainlines. Cellular operators in Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia recorded the largest additions to their respective subscriber base in 2005.

“Competition in cellular services is a main driver for growth. Several cellular operators recorded high growth rates in 2005. Algerian telco Wataniya Telecom Algérie recorded the highest growth rate, which stood at 413.2%, followed by Iraq’s MTC Atheer (339.1%).

The growth in cellular subscriptions continues to drive handset sales across the Middle East, and the region’s emergence as a key market for international vendors, according to international market research firm Gartner.

The company found that mobile phone sales worldwide totalled 224 million units in the first quarter of 2006, a 23.8% increase from the same period last year.

Sales in the Middle East and Africa were said to have increased 30% over the same period.

The first quarter results led Gartner to increase its worldwide mobile phone sales forecast to 960 million units for 2006.

Rival US-based research firm In-Stat backed up these predictions, adding that it expected handset sales to more than double over the next five years.

The company reported that global handset sales topped US$110 billion in 2005, and predicted this figure to rise to US$136 billion this year. Massive demand from emerging markets should see the sector top US$250 billion in sales by 2001, with SmartPhone shipments surpassing 480 million units for the first time that year.

The region’s top two vendors, Nokia and Motorola, which accounted for 54.3% of worldwide mobile phone sales between them in 2005, are placing the Middle East and Africa at the forefront of their growth strategies worldwide.

Motorola has developed low-cost handsets specifically designed for emerging markets in both regions, in addition to heavily promoting its premium Razr and Pebl ranges in mature markets such as the countries of the GCC.

Nokia has established regional offices in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the last six months in a bid to service its key channel partners and further consolidate its presence in the regional handset and accessories market.

Tomi Paatsila, vice president, Nokia (Mobile Phones Sales and Market Operations, Middle East & Africa) said the company also planned to expand its range of customised Arab-language handsets developed for local markets.


Source (http://www.itp.net/news/details.php?id=21214&srh=algeria&tbl=itp_news)

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