Nokia is looking to the Asia-Pacific as a key growth region heading into the next century.
Speaking at the launch of the new 6110 phone in Beijing last week, Nokia Group president and CEO Jorma Ollila said the telecomms industry is a fertile base for trade and economic growth today and into next century.
In the first half of 1997 there were 164 million cellular subscribers worldwide, out of which more than 50 million were GSM. Ollila says the number will grow to more than 490 million by 2001, and that GSM will continue to grow in dominance, with more than 60% of the total subscribers by that time.
“Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region today and into the next decade. While cellular will maintain a growth momentum worldwide, Nokia believes the Asia-Pacific will be the largest among the three regions [Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific] in terms of total number of subscribers after the turn of the century.”
He says the Asia-Pacific region will have a significant influence on the design and technology of future products.
Nokia Asia-Pacific executive vice--president Sari Baldauf says there were 53 million subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region (including Japan) in the first half of 1997.
She expects that figure to rise to 200 million by 2002, with China alone accounting for 50 million subscribers.
She says the region has the youngest users of mobile phones in the world — 69% are under 40 and the fastest growing group is under 24. Hong Kong is forecast to have the highest penetration of adolescent users in Asia-Pacific this year.
The region has “thrown off its mantle” and is moving into a new role of trendsetter and leader, she says.
“The unique demands of the discerning Asian consumer will dictate new products and solutions tailored for their needs. More and more products and innovations are being launched first in Asia-Pacific.”
She says an example is the third-generation wireless technology standardisation and development.
As part of its long-term commitment in China, Nokia will establish a research and development unit in Beijing, concentrating on state-of-the-art technology, and with a focus on mobile communications.