Sales of Unbranded Chinese Phones Surge

Sales of low-cost Chinese cellphones helped fuel a global surge in handset shipments in the third quarter, research firm Gartner said, squeezing market leader Nokia Corp. at a time it facing pressure from Apple Inc.’s iPhone and other smartphones.

Shipments of ‘white-box,’ or unbranded, cellphones rose sharply in emerging markets as Chinese manufacturers expanded into regions like India and Africa, taking market share from the larger cellphone vendors, Gartner said.

Unbranded phone makers’ rapid growth hit the combined market share of the world’s five largest handset vendors, which fell to 67 percent in the third quarter from 83 percent a year earlier. Overall, shipments of phones increased 35 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier to 417 million units, Gartner said.

Chinese makers, who typically build phones around chipsets from Taiwan’s MediaTek Inc., can push out simple devices at very low prices as they have low manufacturing costs and often copy older hardware designs from other vendors, Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner research vice president, said in an interview.

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