LONDON (CNNfn) - Worldwide sales of mobile phones skyrocketed 51 percent last year, with Finland's Nokia surging past Motorola of the U.S. to become the global market leader, according to a report Monday.
Sales reached 162.9 million units in 1998, according to the Gartner Group's Dataquest.
Nokia's market share last year climbed to 22.9 percent from 19.1 percent in 1997. Its sales rose 81 percent to 37 million individual units.
Motorola (MOT), by contrast, saw sales growth of 28 percent, behind Ericsson of Sweden with 50 percent growth and Panasonic which managed 55 percent.
Motorola, said Dataquest, retained its number one slot in analog phones, but Nokia's growing hold on digital phones was the key to its success.
"Nokia has based its product strategy on a few product platforms that have been adapted to all digital standards," said Dataquest analyst Peter Richardson. He added that the company's designs were based on "an intelligently conceived market segmentation plan that looked to consumer desire for inspiration, not simply engineering ability."
Region-by-region, Western Europe was the largest purchaser of mobile phones, accounting for 32 percent of all sales. The U.S. was second with 17 percent followed by Japan with 16.5 percent.