2006 cell phone tally tops one billion

Posted by Mark Raby

New York (NY) - Cell phone sales went through the roof last year, as total shipments of handsets topped one billion for the first time ever, according to a recent report by IDC. The high volume of cell phone sales was propelled by a 20% year-to-year increase during the final three months of the 2006, as the industry recorded significant holiday sales.

In total, about 1.02 billion cell phones were shipped around the world, a significant jump from last year's 832.8 million. Developing countries helped to escalate that number, with Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and third-world Asian countries taking in a significant chunk of the cell phone market over the last 12 months.

In the developing part of the world, cell phones are increasingly important, as they have become the primary technology for people who can't afford expensive computers. As the IDC report noted, landline infrastructures are not even present in parts of the world, making cell phones even more essential than they are in economic strongholds like North America and the UK.

Two big examples are China and India, which saw the number of cell phone customers increase by an aggregate of more than 140 million, with the total subscriber-base reaching over 461 million in China and nearly 150 million in India. Between the two countries, there are over 2.5 billion people, which is why IDC says these two countries are singlehandedly going to boost cell phone sales during the next year and beyond.