Nokia to launch TD-SCDMA handset in 2009

In a move to maintain its market share in the world's largest mobile market, Nokia said it will launch its first TD-SCDMA handset in China next year.

Colin Giles, president of Nokia China, said at Mobile Asia Congress in Macau that Nokia was developing a TD-SCDMA device based on S60 on Symbian OS, and plans to launch the device before the end of 2009.

The S60 TD-SCDMA handset, Giles said, will enrich the TD-SCDMA portfolio for Chinese consumers, and promote the development of TD-SCDMA in China.

Nokia's announcement comes a day after China Mobile CEO Wang Jiangzhou told reporters at the Mobile Asia Congress that Nokia will begin supplying the dual-mode handsets, compatible with GSM and TD-SCDMA 'very soon'. According to Wang, China Mobile is also in talks with Motorola and Sony Ericsson for dual-band GSM/TD-SCDMA handsets procurement.

Gartner analyst Sandy Shen says Nokia's commitment to TD-SCDMA will help resolve the handset supply problem China Mobile is facing, because of its strong brand in China.

"If you look at the purchase list, China Mobile goes for local brands but it didn't have many international brands except LG and Samsung, so Nokia's entry into the TD-SCDMA market will be a big help for the [TD-SCDMA] service."

Despite this, she suggests that Nokia is unlikely to supply a lot of models for GSM/TD-SCDMA because of the limited windows of opportunity for 3G services in China, as China Mobile migrates its networks to LTE in 2010.

"Nokia (and other international brands) would probably launch a few models and once it goes the end of lifecycle they would go to LTE, which has a bigger market than TD-SCDMA," she says.

Handset issues aside, she adds, China Mobile still need to address other issues as network coverage and quality of services, in order to boost the uptake of TD-SCDMA service.