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Nokia reports drop in European growth

Nokia said that growth in the European mobile phone market fell to 3% in 2007 compared with a growth rate of 16% the year before.

The estimates from the world's biggest mobile phone maker, in a document filed with US 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 and Ericsson.

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

Phone sales in Latin America fell to 10% from 15%, 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% of industry sales volume in 2007 compared with a 55% share of sales in 2006.

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

It said that sales of basic phones costing less than €50 accounted for 35% 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% of the world's population.

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