China’s handset market will defy the global economic downtown and continue growing in 2009, according to research firm iSuppli.
The US-based research agency estimates a 7.7% growth in handset shipments to 239.1 million units, up from 222.1 million last year.
This contrasts with global shipment estimates, which are expected to fall 4-5% this year.
Kevin Wang, senior manager of China research at iSuppli, said: “China’s three wireless operators are attracting new subscribers by reducing service fees.
“This will greatly contribute to demand from first-time buyers.”
New subscribers in China are expected to exceed 90 million this year.
Third-generation (3G) handset sales, however, are not expected to increase dramatically this year in China, accounting for only 3% of shipments, or 8 million handsets.
Finland-based Nokia is expected to maintain its market dominance in the region with a 37% market share, whilst Tianyu will continue to be the leading domestic phone maker.
Grey market sales of unlicensed phones dropped last year to 40 million units, compared to 50 million in 2007.
This trend is expected to continue, iSuppli said.