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Phone Sales Keep Climbing

Global shipments of handsets are estimated to be up more than 10 percent for the third quarter, thanks to a strong performance from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) this summer as well as individual hits like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPhone.

ABI Research estimates that mobile device vendors shipped 288 million units globally in the third quarter, a remarkable increase of 10.5 percent quarter-on-quarter and 15.7 percent year-on-year. "This result helps the industry recover from a slightly soft second quarter," say the researchers. The firm forecasts that the global handset shipment market will round out the year with 13.5 percent growth over 2006, which "translates to 1.13 billion mobile devices shipped."

Nokia continues to be the No. 1 handset vendor in the world. The firm increased its global phone shipments by 1 percent quarter-on-quarter to grab a 39 percent share of the market. ABI says the sales were pumped by popular multimedia phones like the N95.

Many are also waiting with bated breath for the iPhone sales figures from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), since this will be the first full quarter that the cult device has been on sale in the U.S. (See Apple Building More iPhones?)

Early reports bode well for sales. Strategy Analytics Inc. is estimating that Apple and AT&T sold 1.1 million devices through various retail channels in the quarter. This would make the iPhone AT&T's top-selling device this summer.

The figures also roughly correlate with what another source has been telling Unstrung about sales. He suggests that Apple built 1.4 million iPhones and sold 1.2 million in the quarter. This would put the Mac maker on track with its own estimates for sales.

It's not all good news in the handset sector, however. Analysts are curious about how well Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s numbers will hold up. The No. 2 vendor has been having a rough time with sales this year, compared to its rivals. (See Nokia Eats Moto Market Share.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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