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Nokia boss expects further growth through 2006

Ollila defies forecasts of handset slowdown, expects strong demand

Nokia's chief executive Jorma Ollila is predicting strong growth for sales of handsets through 2006 - defying predictions of a slowdown in that market sector in the coming year.

The world's leading manufacturer of handsets lifted its projections for the third quarter last month as it saw sales surge unexpectedly, and according to Ollila, shipment numbers have been increased on a month to month basis recently.

"I have a funny feeling next year will be another good growth year," the executive - who will step down from his position next June - told the Financial Times this week.

While a significant part of that growth comes from the sales of low-cost handsets in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa, where the firm is a clear market leader, a more interesting trend is the upsurge in demand in more mature markets.

That tends to suggest that the rate at which consumers are replacing their older handsets is accelerating - a trend which could be very positive for the mobile gaming market, which is relying heavily on the rapid adoption of new handset technology.

Nokia is currently battling to regain 40 per cent market share of the handset sector worldwide, with its current share standing at around 32 per cent, and has introduced a large number of new handset designs in recent months in the hope of challenging popular devices such as rival Motorola's iconic RAZR clamshell phone.

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