BEIJING (Reuters) - The chief executive of top mobile-phone maker Nokia said on Friday that the global market is likely to grow faster next year than many people expect.
The company, which produces one of every three mobile phones sold worldwide, has forecast that the mobile device market this year would reach 780 million units.
Asked about the outlook for next year, Chief Executive Jorma Ollila told reporters in Beijing: "The robust growth will continue and will exceed expectations, as it did this year."
Nokia expects a large portion of that growth to come from China, one of its fastest growing markets.
"We estimate that by 2010 China will have added another 250 million subscribers, strengthening its position as the single largest mobile market in the world," said Ollila.
China has about 380 million mobile subscribers currently.
Nokia sold 23 million handsets in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau in the first nine months of 2005, rising 77 percent from a year-earlier period, said Ollila.
The company recorded total sales of $3.3 billion in those markets in the January-September period, and exported $2.3 billion of goods out of China from its four manufacturing sites in the mainland over the same period.
The company said it has invested more than $2.2 billion in China over the past 20 years and is the largest exporter in the Chinese mobile telecommunications industry.
Nokia also operates six research and development units spread across the region. The company estimates its market share of handsets in those markets at over 30 percent.
Nokia shares have outperformed the wider Eurotech index, rising 27.1 percent since the beginning of the year, compared with the 17.2 percent gain for the index.
The firm said last month that third-quarter net sales rose 18 percent, but growth was driven by demand for its cheaper phones in emerging markets.
Nokia sold 30 percent more phones in the third quarter compared with the year-ago period as a result of booming sales in China and India. That growth came after the introduction of a range of new models and aggressive pricing after stagnant sales and market share losses last year.
Nokia's third-quarter sales increase was less impressive than at No. 2 maker Motorola -- which increased its handset sales by 66 percent -- but it gained market share from market No. 3 Samsung Electronics.
Reflecting the aggressive pricing policy, the average selling price (ASP) for Nokia phones slipped to 102 euros in the third quarter, down from 108 euros in a year earlier, and are expected to fall further in the current quarter.