Leading mobile phone makers lose market share

Image caption, The Galaxy S from Samsung (right) and Apple's iPhone 3G, being demonstrated in South Korea

The world's leading mobile phone makers are losing market share to non-brand manufacturers, according to research.

Analysts at Gartner say smaller, Asian companies accounted for a third of worldwide handset sales in July, August and September.

Nokia is still the biggest seller of mobiles, followed by Samsung and LG.

Meanwhile, Google's Android operating system has sharply increased its share and is now the second most popular mobile operating system after Symbian.

Rising Sales

Gartner says 417 million phones were sold globally during the period - an increase of 35% from the year before.

All of the large manufacturers, except Apple, lost market share to companies that make handsets without a brand.

Apple leapfrogged Research In Motion, which makes Blackberry, to fourth place.

"White-box manufacturers continued to expand their reach outside of China into markets such as India, Russia, Africa and Latin America," said Carolina Milanesi from Gartner.

"We firmly believe this phenomenon will not be short-lived as we still see a continued need for non-3G devices."

China's Huawei and ZTE increased their share of sales, as did HTC of Taiwan.

The number of phones which use Google's Android operating system has been rising rapidly, challenging established rivals.

Android was on 25% of all phones sold during the period, overtaking Microsoft Windows Mobile and Apple's iOS.

Last year, the equivalent figure was 3.5%.

"Google is maintaining a fast pace," said the Gartner report. "Each version brings new features and polish to Android, and the level of innovation is a major innovator."

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