Mobile phone sales will exceed one billion handsets a year by 2009 as they become the most common consumer electronics device with 2.6 billion people using one by then, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

Around 1.04 billion cell phones will be sold in 2009, up from an upwardly revised estimate of 779 million this year and 674 million handsets in 2004, research group Gartner said.

"The mobile phone is the most prolific consumer device on the planet," said Gartner analyst Ben Wood. By comparison, every year around 200 million PCs and 200 million TVs are being sold.

The Asia Pacific region is seen as becoming even more important, with one out of every three mobile phones sold in the area in 2009, up from one in four this year.

"China and India alone will account for nearly 200 million units in 2007, with the Indian market surpassing China in 2009 to reach 139 million units," Asia Pacific analyst Ann Liang.

Vendors including Finland's Nokia, U.S.-based Motorola and Samsung Electronics from South Korea will generate combined revenues of $1.7 billion in 2009.

The average price per mobile phone will slip to $161 in 2009 from $174 in 2004, the study said, even though the handsets will have more memory and better screens and cameras than current models.

"Profit margins are going to get squeezed dramatically both in mature and emerging markets. It will drive many of the smaller players out of business," Wood said.

The price differences will be huge, with basic handsets for emerging markets selling for $20 apiece, while smartphones with computer-like functions retailing for hundreds of dollars.

Smartphones, currently a luxury segment, will make up just over one fifth of all phone sales by 2008.

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