Replacement sales alone could easily generate demand for about 50 million mobile handsets this year, making them a key driver for the China market, Fortune Telecom Holdings chairman Steve Lau Siu-ying said yesterday. Mr Lau estimated that about 25 per cent of the mainland's more than 200 million mobile subscribers would replace their handsets. The main-board-listed company is the exclusive distributor in China of Nokia's 8250 model, one of the most popular mobile phones in the mainland. Mr Lau expected the model to top the sales charts for another six months before it was replaced by other models. 'The Nokia 8250 has been a well-established brand among mainland subscribers since last year, but it will be replaced by other brands in half a year,' he said. On Monday, Minister of Information Industry Wu Jichuan said China was expected to add another 52 million mobile phone users this year. New users plus existing users replacing their old handsets will generate strong demand. Despite popular foreign brands such as Motorola, Nokia and Samsung taking a big slice of the pie in the mainland, Mr Lau said domestic handset brands had an advantage over foreign brands in catering for local tastes. 'Domestic brands tend to be more sensitive to local tastes - like producing foldable mobile phones which most mainland users actually prefer,' Mr Lau said. He predicted three domestic brands would emerge in the mainland market: Amoi Sonic, Panda and DBtel. DBtel was likely to have a price advantage over the other brands considering its relatively sophisticated technology and low production costs. Mr Lau said Panda was an aggressive player in the domestic market and had just made the highest bid for television commercial air time in China.