Nokia Lumia 800C
Finnish mobile maker Nokia has launched its latest Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh smartphone in China, and is looking to make a possible comeback in the smartphone business through this market. With about 1 billion mobile users, the world's biggest mobile phone-using population has much untapped potential, and Nokia wants to bank on the smartphone craze here, in the hopes of regaining its dominance in this industry -- or, at least, additional market share.

Once the leading smartphone brand, Nokia has been surpassed by the likes of Apple and Samsung, along with other brands that market various platform smartphones, most notably Android. Nokia has launched a one-year corporate turnaround campaign, and is looking into tapping the Chinese market to drive this effort.

China Telecom Nokia 600C-w600.jpg

Ni Hao, Nokia! Nokia launches the Lumia 800C Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh smartphone in China through China Telecom. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop with China Telecom chairman Wang Xiaochu.

"China is critically important for Nokia," said CEO Stephen Elop during the product launch, noting that China is a prominent brand in the country, amid the rise of other mobile brands.

Potential for Growth

China has a billion mobile users, although less than 20% of these use smartphones. Add the fact that China is also the world's second slowest in terms of mobile broadband speed, this market is ripe for the picking for mobile companies and network infrastructure providers. Chinese smartphone users bought 70 million smartphones in 2011, and this figure will rise by 45% this year, reports Beijing-based Analysis International.

Even if Nokia were only able to take a small share of the 100-million-unit sales forecast this year, that would already be a big deal.

Learning Opportunities

Integration With Local Services

Nokia will start selling the Lumia 800C for 3,500 yuan (US$ 570) starting April. Other models -- the 610C and 710C -- will be launched shortly after. The 610C is an entry-level device, with an 800 MHz single-core processor and 250MB RAM.

All Windows Phone releases in China will feature local services like Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ, RenRen and other local social networking services, in lieu of Twitter, Facebook and Xbox LIVE. The Lumia 800C will be released through China Telecom, the country's #2 network in terms of subscribers. Nokia will also launch the smartphone on China Mobile and China Unicom thereafter.

Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh -- previously codenamed "Tango" -- launched in China last week, with focus on bringing the WP7 platform to entry-level devices, localization, and tighter integration with social networking services.

Nokia and Microsoft are likewise providing support to local developers, in the aim of beefing up the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem in the region and worldwide. Developers and entrepreneurs will receive financing to build apps for the platform.