10/18/2006 9:03:00 AM
Four-horse race for no.1
Nokia is braced for its toughest test yet to hold on to the number one spot in the UK, with a chasing pack of three manufacturers all vying to grab the number one spot over the so-called 'golden quarter'.
Retailers said Nokia had dipped below the 30% mark in the UK for the first time in years, with Sony Ericsson, Samsung and Motorola inching nearer.
Nokia's rivals are optimistic given Nokia's lack of a killer Christmas handset, although Nokia says its handsets typically have higher value than rivals' so are more profitable. It also has a high volume of business handsets which, it argues, is not revealed in the figures.
Sony Ericsson is hoping to surge ahead in the coming months with the recent launch of its W850i slider Walkman and W950i 4GB Walkman, as well as a host of new prepay handsets. It has also cut prices of handsets such as the K750i, which were selling well on contract a few months ago but have been discounted to sell in the prepay market.
Motorola is expected to deliver strong sales in the coming months with aggressive pricing on its Motorola V3 handset, expected to drop to around £65 with some operators. Motorola is pinning its hopes on the KRZR and RIZR handsets to steal market share on the contract market. So far this year, it has struggled to make any real dent in the contract market given the disappointing performance of the V3x 3G handset.
Samsung, meanwhile, is splashing out £7.5m on marketing its Ultra range of thin handsets, in particular the D900 slider, which it hopes will emulate the success of its previous slider handsets. The Korean manufacturer is also expected to unveil 3G variants of its Ultra range.
Sony Ericsson had a record quarter, finishing with a 42% year-on-year increase in sales. Sales were £1.9bn for the third quarter and the manufacturer shipped 19.8 million units, 43% more than the same period in 2005. Year-on-year income was up by 187% to £293m.
The average retail price of Sony Ericsson's handsets also increased during the quarter to £99. The manufacturer said the average price increase was due to the addition of high-priced models to its range, such as the K800i Cyber-shot.
It credited the performance to the popularity of its K800i and Walkman-branded phones. The handsets have had strong results on Mobile's contract tracker. The K800i has been at the top since July, while the W810i has been hovering over fifth and sixth place for the last six weeks.