Nokia brings Windows Phone to China in bid to grow market share

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will partner with China Telecom to deliver its first smartphones running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone software to the Chinese market, which some analysts predict will become the largest smartphone market this year. The CDMA-capable Lumia 800C will be Nokia's latest attempt to broaden its Windows Phone customer base and grow market share.

China Telecom group Chairman Wang Xiaochu and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop jointly announced the first Nokia Lumia device in China Nokia 800C

China Telecom group Chairman Wang Xiaochu, left, and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop jointly announce the first Nokia Lumia device in China, the Nokia 800C

Nokia said the Lumia 800C, a Chinese variant of its flagship Lumia 800, will go on sale in April for $570 without a contract. Nokia will sell it through its retail stores in China and it will also be featured prominently in Tianyi FlyYoung shops, a distribution arm and new, youth-focused sub-brand of China Telecom.

"It's obviously a very important date in our largest market," Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told Bloomberg from China. "As we did in the U.S. in terms of targeting very specific capabilities for the U.S. market, we're very excited to show today the same type of approach to China."

The Lumia 800C runs Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, has a 1.4 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon processor, 3.7-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display, Carl Zeiss optics in its camera, HD video playback, 16 GB of internal user memory and free Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage for storing images and music. Nokia said it will come preloaded with Nokia's Drive turn-by-turn navigation service, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music, as well as Trends, which provides interactive magazine content. Nokia and Microsoft also announced the Be Top program, which is designed to encourage and support developers to create Windows Phone apps specifically for people in China.

Nokia is also working to expand its lineup of phones and carrier partners in China. Nokia said it will bring the less expensive Lumia 610C to China Telecom in the second quarter. And Colin Giles, Nokia's executive vice president for global sales, told Reuters that the handset maker intends to bring its Lumia 710 and 900 models to the Chinese market, and that Nokia is working to build phones for China Mobile and China Unicom.

"We've invested heavily in China," Giles told reporters, according to Reuters. "We're creating innovation in China for China, which a number of our competitors aren't doing."

Although the United States has been one of the world's hottest smartphone markets during the past few years, it will likely be surpassed by China by the end of the year. According to IDC's projections, by the end of 2012, China will have 20.7 percent of the global smartphone market, based on shipments slightly ahead of the 20.6 percent the U.S. market will claim. The UK will follow with 4.5 percent in 2012, followed India with 2.9 percent and Brazil with 2.3 percent. The rest of the world will make up the remaining 49 percent.

Nokia is clearly hoping to tap into China's growth as it broadens its portfolio of Lumia smartphones in the United States and Latin America. Lumia devices first went on sale in Europe last fall.

For more:
- see this release
- see this IDG News Service article
- see this NYT article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

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