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Nokia: European handset-sales growth took a hit in '07

Nokia estimates that last year's growth rate was down 80 percent from the previous year, but growth in Asia-Pacific and China remained robust.

In filings with U.S. regulators, Nokia on Thursday estimated that the growth rate for sales of its handsets in Europe had shrunk to 3 percent in 2007 from 16 percent in 2006.

What's more, the company said its growth rates had cooled in the Middle East and Africa (to 19 percent from 68 percent in 2006), North America (to 6 percent from 13 percent), and Latin America (to 10 percent from 15 percent), Reuters notes.

The global picture wasn't quite as wearying for Nokia: 2007 sales in the Asia-Pacific region grew by 34 percent, and in China, sales grew by 34 percent, offsetting the drops elsewhere. Nokia said emerging markets generated almost 60 percent of handset-industry sales volume last year, and 55 percent in 2006.

In light of sales-growth predictions released by Gartner in February and Sony Ericsson's announcement on Wednesday that slowing demand in Europe for its midpriced and high-end phones would ding its first-quarter results, the estimates from Nokia don't seem terribly surprising. Gartner predicted that handset sales growth in 2008 would slow to 10 percent worldwide, with market saturation in North America and Western Europe doing the most to slow sales momentum.

From here on out, global-growth forecasts for 2008 aren't likely to be even that optimistic.