Nokia says European mobile phone growth fell in '07

NEW YORK Thu Mar 20, 2008 1:23pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nokia (NOK1V.HE) said on Thursday that growth in the European mobile phone market fell to 3 percent in 2007 compared with a growth rate of 16 percent the year before.

The estimates from the world's biggest mobile phone maker, in a document filed with U.S. regulators, came a day after smaller rival Sony Ericsson cited slowing growth in Europe as it issued a warning that its current quarter profit could fall by half.

Sony Ericsson is a venture of Sony Corp (6758.T) and Ericsson (ERICb.ST).

Nokia also said that growth had slowed in the Middle East and Africa mobile phone market to 19 percent from 68 percent in 2006. Growth in North American unit sales fell to 6 percent in 2007 from 13 percent in 2006, Nokia said.

Phone sales in Latin America fell to 10 percent from 15 percent, according to Nokia's estimates.

The slowing growth in these regions was offset by a boost in sales expansion in China and in Asia-Pacific countries, according to Nokia. It said phone sales in emerging markets accounted for almost 60 percent of industry sales volume in 2007 compared with a 55 percent share of sales in 2006.

Nokia said that phone sales grew by 34 percent in the Asia-Pacific region in 2007 compared with 27 percent in 2006, and that in China phone sales increased by 34 percent in 2007 compared with a 29 percent growth rate in 2006.

It said that sales of basic phones costing less than 50 euros accounted for 35 percent of total phone sales of 1.14 billion units in 2007. In 2006 about 978 million phone units were sold, according to Nokia.

At the end of 2007, Nokia estimated that there were about 3.3 billion mobile phone users around the world, representing about 43 percent of the world's population.

This compares with 2.7 billion users at the end of 2006 and a 40 percent global penetration rate, Nokia said.

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