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SEOUL, June 11 (Reuters) - LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS), the world's third-largest mobile phone maker, will maintain its global market share target at 10 percent for this year and aims to become No.2 by 2012, the head of its handset business said on Thursday.
With the mobile phone market expected to shrink by up to 10 percent this year amid the global economic downturn, handset makers are striving to prop up sales by focusing on a few growth areas such as smartphones and emerging markets.
"Our goal of a 10 percent market share remains unchanged," Skott Ahn, president and CEO of Mobile Communications at LG, said at a news conference. "We will become the global No. 2 in 2012, and that goal applies to smartphones as well."
In handset terms, LG trails Nokia (NOK1V.HE) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), but is ahead of Motorola Inc MOT.N and Sony Ericsson (6758.T) (ERICb.ST). In 2008, LG sold 100.7 million phones to claim about 9 percent of the market.
Ahn also said LG was optimistic that its share of the fast-growing Chinese market would more than treble this year from 2 percent in 2008.
"China is migrating fast to 3G (third-generation) technology."
Ahn was speaking at the domestic launch of LG's new premium model "ARENA", a touchscreen phone with a three-dimensional user interface. LG aimed to sell at least 5 million units during the ARENA's lifecycle, Ahn said.
Ma Chang-min, vice-president in charge of marketing strategy for Mobile Communications, said LG would unveil about 80 handset models globally in 2009, of which 12 would be premium models.
Sales of smartphones that provide computer-like functionality will jump 28 percent in 2009, according to research firm Gartner.
LG has teamed up with Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) to enhance its smartphone offering and also plans to unveil a handset running on Google Inc's (GOOG.O) Android software later this year.
LG has scheduled the launch of its own download store for July in the Korean market, aiming to eventually make it a place for LG phone users to access applications and digital content such as games and music.
"Open operating systems will be the mainstream," Ahn said.
Companies from device makers to mobile service operators are offering virtual download stores, following the success of Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) App Store.
(Reporting by Rhee So-eui; Editing by Chris Lewis)