Analysts expect that color displays, mobile data technology, multimedia messaging and wireless-number portability will boost 2003 consumption of cellular telephones.
Yankee Group Research Inc. of Boston projected global 2003 sell-through of 460 million wireless phones, vs. an anticipated total of 409 million units in 2002. Yankee Group said domestic sales will reach 66 million units, up from 50.9 million in 2002.
Growth in 2003 will pick up in the Asia-Pacific region as market penetration in China gathers momentum, and in North America as users retire older models, including analog handsets, said John Jackson, a Yankee Group research analyst.
In late 2003, domestic users will be able to retain a wireless-telephone number even while changing service providers; users in Europe obtained that ability in November.
Major manufacturers incorporate portability into most new models.
In the United States, ``about 45 million people have devices with access to the Web, but only 15 percent are using it,'' said Adam Zawel, senior analyst with Yankee Group.
An analyst with Dataquest, the mobile communications group of Gartner Inc., agreed with the global projection.
``Global sales of mobile handsets should exceed 460 million units in 2003, compared with approximately 420 million last year,'' said Bryan Prohm, senior analyst in Raleigh, N.C., with Dataquest.
Prohm said fast-growing niches in 2003 will include ``color-screen phones, camera phones, messaging phones, mobile gaming phones and, toward the end of the year, smart phones.''
About 77 percent of mobile phones being sold during 2003 in North America will have Web capability, and that figure will rise to 99 percent by 2006.
``During 2003, a burgeoning replacement market is expected to drive as much as two-thirds of global sales to end users,'' Prohm said.
However, ``ongoing price pressure and carrier subsidies could cancel out'' expected increases in average sales prices.
Higher sales may reverse Western Europe's two-year drop in mobile handset sales. The heavily saturated market in Europe had 2002 sales of 97 million units vs. 115 million in 2001 and 134 million in 2000.
Frost & Sullivan Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., projects domestic cellular phone consumption will grow to about 102 million units in 2003, vs. a flat 80 million handsets last year and in 2001.