* Handset market volume fell 15.8 pct -IDC
* Strategy Analytics says 13 pct, CCS Insight 14.3 pct
* Weakest ever quarter in history of cellphone industry
* Motorola overtook Sony Ericsson as market No 4
By Tarmo Virki, European technology correspondent
HELSINKI, April 30 (Reuters) - The cellphone market contracted in January-March at the fastest pace in its history, with Motorola MOT.N overtaking Sony Ericsson (6758.T)(ERICb.ST) as the fourth-largest cellphone vendor.
Motorola saw its sales volumes almost halve from a year ago, shipping 14.7 million phones, but it still beat the Swedish-Japanese venture of Sony and Ericsson, which sold 14.5 million cellphones. [ID:nLU746082]
The cellphone market is facing its toughest year in 2009 as consumers rein in spending.
Research firm IDC said the market fell 15.8 percent from a year ago, while CCS Insight estimated the market fall at 14.3 percent and Strategy Analytics at 13 percent.
“The global economic downturn caused the weakest ever growth rate since the modern cellphone industry began in 1983,” said Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics.
“The global economic recession amplified the effects of a seasonally low quarter, as retailers de-stocked inventory and consumers delayed purchases because of financial fears,” Mawston said in a statement. (Editing by Simon Jessop)