One out of every five cellphones sold is a KIRF, says Nokia

When your core business is as wrapped up in emerging markets as Nokia's is, then you'd better know a little something about KIRFs -- those cheap handset clones that our Chinese friends can often stamp out faster than the time it takes for Nokia to ship a handset after its announcement. Nokia executive board member, Esko Aho, says that one out of every five cellphones now sold around the world (primarily in Asia, Latin America, and some parts of Europe) is an illegal or unlicensed clone. We've certainly seen more than our share when browsing the Shenzhen markets of China. Gartner claims the number to be even higher than 20 percent. While we poke fun at KIRFs around here for their shoddy software, comically similar branding (Nokla!), and cheapo materials, they've clearly become a very serious issue for top-tier cellphone manufacturers. How serious we'll see on January 27th when Nokia announces its fourth quarter results.