Mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications reported a surge in first-quarter profits Thursday, helped by a large increase in the number of phones it shipped.Sony Ericsson said it shipped 13.3 million phones during the quarter, a 41 percent increase over the same period last year. The number of phones shipped was down compared to the fourth quarter, which typically spikes due to the holiday season.Sales in the first quarter grew 55 percent to 1.99 billion euros\u00a0(US$2.4 billion) compared to the first quarter last year, and net income more than tripled, reaching 109 million euros\u00a0compared to 32 million a year earlier, Sony Ericsson said. The company credited the volume of new products released during the quarter for the growth. The vendor introduced three Walkman phones and its first camera phone sporting Sony\u2019s Cyber-shot brand. Sony Ericsson also reported that the average selling price of its phones rose to 149 euros, compared to 144 euros\u00a0during the fourth quarter last year. The increase follows a similar growth in average selling price at Nokia, which announced earlier this week that the average price of its phones during the quarter was 103 euros, rather than the 99 euros\u00a0or less it had expected. Sony Ericsson expects growth in the global handset market to continue to beat previous expectations, predicting that 900 million phones will sell globally in 2006. That\u2019s up from the phone maker\u2019s forecast of 10 percent growth on the 780 million phones sold in 2005.Sony Ericsson is in fifth place among mobile phone vendors, trailing behind Nokia, Motorola, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.-Nancy Gohring, IDG News ServiceCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.