Europe makes way for Asian cell phone dominance

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When a group of European manufacturers and carriers met in the early 1980s to agree to a mobile phone system that could be used across the continent, they had no idea that GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) would someday become the most widely used cellular technology in the world.

And after the technology took off, none of the manufacturers involved in those early talks -- Alcatel SA of France, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson of Sweden, Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands, Siemens AG of Germany and Nokia Corp. of Finland -- ever imagined themselves as anything less than major suppliers of phones to this new market.

Now, fast-forward to the year 2005.

On Tuesday, Siemens became the most recent member of that original Club of Five to unload its mobile phone production to a low-cost Asian manufacturer. The German company agreed, effectively, to give Taiwan's BenQ Corp.

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