Nokia Extends Handset Lead

There's just no stopping Nokia Corp.'s (NYSE: NOK) handset division at the moment. Not only is it extending its lead over its rivals, it looks to have the most comprehensive range of new products for 2003 (see Pics'n'Prices: The Nokia Set). That's the view of market analysts at Gartner/Dataquest, which has just released its handset sales estimates for the third quarter of 2003, which show global sales of 104.3 million units, a 7.8 percent increase on the same period last year (see Handset Sales Top 104M in Q3 and table below). Table 1: Worldwide Mobile Terminal Sales to End-User Estimates for 3Q02 (Thousands of Units)
Company 3Q02 Sales 3Q02 Market Share (%) 3Q01 Sales 3Q01 Market Share (%) Growth (%)
Nokia 37,447 35.9 32,996.8 34.1 13.5
Motorola 15,030 14.4 14,681.6 15.2 2.4
Samsung 11,063 10.6 7,259.7 7.5 52.4
Siemens 8,145 7.8 7,215.1 7.5 12.9
Sony/Ericsson** 4,999 4.8 7,183.9 7.4 -30.4
Others 27,572 26.4 27,361.0 28.3 0.8
Total 104,256 100 96,698.1 100 7.8
** Ericsson sales only in 3Q01. Sony 3Q01 sales included in Others.
Note: This table does not include iDEN sales to end-users.
Source: Gartner/Dataquest (November 2002)

Compared with the same quarter a year ago, Nokia has extended its lead over its nearest rival, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), which has seen its market share fall below 15 percent as it struggles to stay competitive. Meanwhile, Nokia moves ever closer to its Holy Grail of 40 percent. On a regional basis, Gartner notes that it now has more than 50 percent of the market in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and Western Europe. "This is a sensational performance by Nokia," says Dataquest senior mobile analyst Ben Wood. "To have more than a 50 percent market share in Western Europe is amazing and is testament to its brand and its [sales] channel strategy, as those sales have not come from the introduction of any revolutionary new products. That will start to have an impact in the fourth quarter, so that looks good for Nokia, too." Wood adds that the Finnish company has made good after what looked like an uninspiring start to 2002. "At the beginning of the year I was questioning Nokia, especially after its lackluster display at CeBit. But whatever your opinion of Nokia, you cannot help but be impressed by its performance. Look at the product range it displayed in Munich [at the Mobile Internet Conference in early November] and how it is addressing various sectors of the market with different products." Equally noticeable is the slippery slope that Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications is whizzing down. Here is a table of the past three quarters of Gartner figures that documents Sony Ericsson's decline. Table 2: Worldwide Mobile Terminal Sales to End-Users 1Q02 to 3Q02 (Thousands of Units)
Company 3Q02 Sales 3Q02 Market Share (%) 2Q02 Sales 2Q02 Market Share (%) 1Q02 sales 1Q02 Market Share (%)
Nokia 37,447 35.9 35,089 35.6 32,531 34.7
Motorola 15,030 14.4 15,496 15.7 14,533 15.5
Samsung 11,063 10.6 9,342 9.5 9,030 9.6
Siemens 8,145 8.4 8,247 8.4 8,229 8.8
Sony/Ericsson 4,999 4.8 5,309 5.4 6,009 6.4
Others 27,572 26.4 25,220 25.6 23,424 25
Total 104,256 100 98,703 100 93,755 100
Source: Gartner Dataquest 2002

"Sony Ericsson had a disastrous third quarter, yet it continues to make positive noises and talk the talk," says Wood. "But we have not seen anything come out of the joint venture yet in terms of new products -- the launches we have seen have been products based on the LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) T68 line that it inherited. Where are the new products? To stabilize or even build its market share, it is going to need a sensational lineup of new products for early 2003, which could be unveiled at CeBit or even before." Well, it looks as if something is up at the joint venture, as Ericsson CEO and president Kurt Hellstrom has promised further investment in the handset vehicle in the first quarter of 2003 (see Ericsson's CDMA Dreams). And the long-awaited P800 handset is being promised in Europe in the next few weeks, although there are no details available as yet on the official launch date or the territories involved (see Sony Ericsson Races Santa). Analysts at Lehman Brothers believe the investment could be around $250 million. Climbing in the other direction -- that's upwards -- is Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC), which looks set to top 11 percent market share in the fourth quarter. Also on the upswing are several Asian companies currently lumped in the "Other" category. "Companies to look out for are LG Electronics Inc., Matsushita Communication Industrial Co. Ltd. [with its Panasonic brand], and TCL Corp.," says Wood. "LG is mounting an offensive in Europe, particularly in Italy, so we're watching its progress closely. TCL has the potential to become a top 10 global handset manufacturer on the strength of sales only in Asia/Pacific, especially China. "Motorola is still the dominant player in China, but it is relying on North America and China too much [more than 50 percent of its total sales from these two areas] and really needs to make a greater impact in Europe." With the Christmas sales season in full swing, and with marketing campaigns for picture messaging and other new services prominent in the media, this could be the time for Motorola to regain some ground in the GSM device market. "There are tremendous opportunities just now in Western Europe, which is ripe for replacement sales growth," says Wood. "We believe that a good proportion of people have had their handset for two years or more, and now they are being enticed by the wide availability of color screens." Unfortunately for its competitors, Western Europe looks like increasingly fertile ground for the self-satisfied Finns. "This is a particularly good opportunity for Nokia, which has a massive installed base that is already familiar with its interface, and most people tend to stick with the types of phones that they know their way around." For the likes of Motorola and Sony Ericsson, that doesn't sound too much like Yuletide cheer. — Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung
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