Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will unveil its first smartphones running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone for the Chinese market at a launch event March 28. Nokia is counting on expansion into China and other emerging markets with Windows Phone to bolster its comeback in smartphones.
Few details are known about which devices Nokia will announce for the Chinese market, though rumors have suggested Nokia will at least bring its high-end Lumia 800 device to China, and likely its newly announced Lumia 610, which runs a version of Windows Phone that is designed to be less expensive. A Nokia spokesperson told The Verge that Nokia will start selling Windows smartphones in China in April.
The Lumia 610 is the first Nokia Windows Phone with a version of the software for phones with 256 MB of RAM. The software version was announced last month at the Mobile World Congress trade show, and removes a few of the platform's capabilities in order to run on less expensive hardware. Microsoft and Nokia hope that the new, less expensive Windows Phone platform will more effectively compete with other, cheaper smartphones, especially phones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform.
Nokia will be going up against tough competition in China. According to research firm Gartner, Samsung controls 24.3 percent of the Chinese smartphone market. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which sells the iPhone through China Unicom and just started selling it through China Telecom, has 7.5 percent of the smartphone market in China, according to Gartner.
Meanwhile, in a bit of related news, there continues to be some confusion about the name Microsoft has given to the version of Windows Phone that is designed for phones with 256 MB of RAM. Recent reports indicated the name of the version was "Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh," but a Microsoft spokesperson debunked those reports. The software version is informally known among the technology press as "Windows Phone Tango."
"We have not announced a change in the official naming for the forthcoming update--it will still be referred to as Windows Phone 7.5," a Microsoft spokeswoman told FierceWireless. "That said, what we announced at MWC is a refresh of the 7.5 release that adds support for new hardware and markets."
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