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Motorola (MOT) kept its edge in mobile phones in the first quarter, posting its sixth consecutive quarter of market-share gains.

Thanks to strong sales of its iconic Razr phone and growth in nearly every region, Motorola added 2.4 percentage points of business in the first quarter, taking its slice of the market to 21%.

No. 1 cell-phone maker


(NOK) - Get Free Report

, on the other hand, slipped 0.8 percentage points due to weak sales in Europe and the U.S. But strong demand in developing areas like Eastern Europe and China helped slow Nokia's slide.

Overall, Nokia held its top spot with 34.1% of the market in the first quarter. Motorola was No. 2 with 21%.


was third with 13.2%.


had 7.1%. And

Sony Ericsson

, jointly owned by






, had a 6% market share, according to JPMorgan analyst Ehud Gelblum.

First-quarter phone sales typically fall more than 10% below the holiday-stoked fourth-quarter levels, but this year the seasonal dip was less dramatic, at about 8%. Analysts attribute this moderation to the fact that the popularity of cell phones has grown beyond the big markets of Europe, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

"Developing markets now account for more than half of all handsets sold," says Gelblum in a research note Monday.

And though the torrid pace of the wireless industry growth has begun to slow, don't expect a significant dropoff this year, say observers.

In the past two weeks, each of the major wireless-phone makers raised total sales-growth estimates for the year to about 15%, up from the 10% or so they called for at the beginning of the year. The industry players typically underestimate demand early on. Last year, for example opening predictions ran in the 10% to 15% range, but at year's end actual growth was 23.6%.

Gelblum predicts a similar pattern for 2006 and projects total phone sales will grow to 975 million units, or 20.3% over last year's levels.

Motorola shares rose 17 cents to $22.24 early Monday, while Nokia fell 27 cents to $22.61.