The western European mobile phone market is still seeing double digit growth and will be driven throughout 2005 by increasing take-up of 3G services and converged voice and data handsets. Analyst company IDC says the handset market saw 19 per cent growth in 2004 and predicts a further 12 per cent growth in 2005. While converged devices (or smartphones) only make up around 4 per cent of the total market, that segment grew by a massive 40 per cent last year. IDC expects shipments of these devices to grow by 70 per cent this year, accounting for over 6 per cent of the market. Despite dropping by over 9 per cent, Nokia still held the largest share of the market at 34.8 percent in 2004 , followed by Siemens with 15.6 per cent and then Motorola which grew by a massive 91.3 per cent to take 12.1 per cent of the overall market.

The company said it expects 3G handsets to account for 13 per cent of mobile phone shipments in 2005, double the previous year’s figure. However, the lack of 3G enabled smartphones demonstrates that the technology is not yet ready for acceptance in mainstream business. Andrew Brown, program manager for European mobile devices at IDC said “The wide-scale absence of converged devices featuring WCDMA capability that 3G is yet to be considered compelling or even necessary for business enterprise level applications. To date there exist more smartphones featuring WiFi than WCDMA and we expect 3G handset development to remain led by consumer oriented devices rather than enterprise level smart phones.”

Also this month, mobile network operator O2 announced a new tool, O2 Guardian, designed to help businesses distinguish between personal and business calls made by staff on company mobiles. The government is keen to stop companies from claiming VAT on personal calls and businesses need to demonstrate that they are taking measures to identify which calls they need to pay tax on. O2 Guardian is a web based application which provides a range of tools for businesses to manage their mobile spending.

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