Mobile market tipped for rapid growth

The regional mobile phone market is expected to grow 25% this year, with strong growth in smart phone sales.

The mobile phone market in the Middle East is expected to grow by 25% this year, according to researcher Wireless Intelligence.

While growth in mature markets like Western Europe and the US is softening, it is accelerating in the region, according to the company, a joint venture between Ovum and the GSM Association.

The Middle East will pass the 50% penetration rate in the second quarter of this year, the firm predicted.

"Following a market growth of 30% in 2006, the Middle East is the second fastest growing region in the world cellular markets," said Joss Gillet, senior analyst at Wireless Intelligence.

Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia lead the market for cellular connections in the Middle East, with average market penetration of around 67%, according to Wireless Intelligence.

According to another report, smart phone sales are helping to drive that strong regional growth. Industry analyst Gartner has reported that customer demand for smart phone technology is growing at over 50% annually, mobile technology CIT MobiDiv said this week. The firm said Gartner is expecting the smart phone market to grow from 6.3 million units last year to almost 18 million devices by 2010.

"Today's customers are demanding increasingly sophisticated mobile devices," said Ashraf Zaki, executive chairman, CIT MobiDiv. "To remain competitive, manufacturers and vendors need to provide innovative features and applications to differentiate themselves in the marketplace."

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