International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that just more than 1-billion cellphones were shipped by manufacturers in 2006, boosted by a record 294.9-million units in the last quarter. 


Fourth quarter figures showed a 20% increase on the same period in 2005, while total shipments of 1.02-billion for last year are significantly up on the previous year's 832.8-million units.
IDC says that handset sales were propelled by developing nations in regions such as Asia, Africa and Latin America which accounted for a higher proportion of sales in 2006 than more established, mature markets such as North America, Japan and Europe.
The research group forecasts that this trend will continue in the near future.
"Many people in developing areas still don't have handsets and it takes less time and money to build a wireless network than a landline network, making mobile phones a better choice for less affluent countries," IDC says, adding that cellphones are also viewed as status symbols in many of these countries.
While China and India are singled out in the report with new unit sales in 2006 of 67.7-million (149.5-million total) and 74-million (461.1-million total) respectively, IDC says there is still vast potential in these markets which both have populations of more than 1-billion.