More than 1.1 billion mobile phones were sold around the world last year, and developing countries in Africa and elsewhere should keep the momentum up this year, a study released on Thursday showed.
Nokia of Finland strengthened its position as the world's best-selling phone maker, while South Korea's Samsung moved up to second place and US vendor Motorola dropped back to third, a study by Strategy Analytics said.
However, Apple's much vaunted iPhone was not as big a hit as expected, the study said.
Sales increased about 10 percent from US$1 billion in 2006 to 1.12 billion last year and is expected to surge another 10 percent to 1.24 billion this year, Strategy Analytics said.
"Emerging regions, particularly Africa, will continue to drive shipments," it said. "Saturated Western markets -- many of them likely to see weak GDP growth -- will remain sluggish in 2008."
The market information firm said Nokia made sizeable gains in Africa and the Middle East "despite fierce competition from dozens of rivals in every price tier."
The Finnish company sold 437 million handsets last year, up from 347 million in 2006 to grab a 38.8 percent market share.
Samsung increased sales from 113 million to 161 million -- growing three times faster than the industry average -- to move ahead of Motorola, which saw sales collapse from 217 million to 159 million.
"Motorola's device portfolio remains weak; without a more attractive lineup of handsets the pain is likely to continue into the second half of 2008."
The study said better third generation (3G) phones and "cooler sub-branding" by Samsung, LG Electronics and Nokia ate into Sony Ericsson's market share.
It said Apple's iPhone came in "slightly below our expectations," selling 2.3 million phones for a 0.6 percent market share.
"The European launch in France, Germany and the UK was handled successfully, but demand from buyers was less frenzied than the US entry in June, 2007," Strategic Analytics aid.
"High retail prices for the iPhone have been one issue," it said.
The phone costs 399 euros (US$587) in France and 269 pounds (US$530) in Britain.
Apple Inc on Tuesday reported its best quarter ever as profits soared to US$1.58 billion in the last three months of last year on demand for its iPhones, Macintosh computers and iPods.
Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs said last week that the company had sold more than 4 million iPhones, touch-screen mobile devices that combine telephone, video, music and Internet access.