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Nokia’s 1 billion opportunity: A China Lumia launch

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Nokia (s nok) is expected to launch its Lumia smartphone line in China on March 28, according to multiple reports. DigiTimes says that China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile will all sell Nokia Lumia handsets; combined, these three operators have nearly 1 billion subscribers. That’s a huge opportunity both for Nokia and for Microsoft (s msft), which developed the Windows Phone platform Nokia now uses on new smartphones.

DigiTimes says its information has come from industry sources, but its report follows a similar one from Tech In Asia. Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, told a Chinese news agency that the first Lumia phone would be available on the 28th of this month. Elop didn’t provide any details of which model or models would be available at that time. However, the Lumia 800 and 719C were reviewed and approved for sale in China by the country’s telecom inspection unit, according to Tech In Asia.

Although there hasn’t been an official Lumia launch date provided, it shouldn’t surprise that Nokia will be pushing its product hard in China. As noted yesterday, China is expected to supplant the U.S. as the world leader in smartphone shipments by the end of this year. India and Brazil, too, are moving up the list as mobile broadband infrastructure matures. Given Nokia’s broad global distribution and worldwide brand recognition, I’d expect Lumia handsets to find their way to those countries soon as well.

Launching relatively low-cost but highly capable smartphones in populous countries could be a boon to Nokia, which has faced sales declines and increased competition from the iPhone and Android handsets. But it could bring even more benefit to Microsoft. The company has tried to start over with its mobile platform, launching the first Windows Phone devices in 2010, but hasn’t yet gained much of a foothold in the smartphone market.

9 Responses to “Nokia’s 1 billion opportunity: A China Lumia launch”

  1. David McCormack

    I borrowed a Windows Phone 7.5 device from work for the weekend and used it as my primary smartphone during this time (it was a 3-day holiday weekend here thanks to St Patrick!). I was very, very impressed. Fast and fluid. Uncluttered. Fun, even! The whole “platform X has ten zillion apps and platform Y only has ten thousand apps” argument really doesn’t cut it with me. The best smartphone for me is the one that allows me to do my 95% tasks as painlessly and quickly as possible. After that…meh! Although I’m a professional Android developer, my personal Android device is out of contract in a few weeks time. Until a couple of days ago, the Galaxy S3 would have been the obvious next device for me. But after a dirty weekend with WP7, the Lumia 900 is looking very tempting.

    • David, your experience is one I’ve heard time and again. Those that don’t even try Windows Phone are simply writing it off while many who do actually find it to be pretty solid. Microsoft is fighting the stigma of its Windows Mobile efforts here I think and needs to get people to try the devices.

  2. “India and Brazil, too, are moving up the list as
    mobile broadband infrastructure matures.
    Given Nokia’s broad global distribution and
    worldwide brand recognition, I’d expect Lumia
    handsets to find their way to those countries
    soon as well.”
    The Lumia 800 & 710 have been available in India for months now, btw

  3. Luke Tomasello

    We all want to see Nokia phones running on China Mobile, but I’ve seen no credible evidence to support that. What “industry sources”?

    I think without and credible evidence, an article such as this is a tad premature.

    • Michael

      I agree, the only thing we have is the digitimes article. We’ll find out on the 28th, Nokia has been talking about TD-SCDMA for a while, and it may explain (partly) why they were so slow fixing the Lumia 800 firmware issues.

  4. rajpal gurm

    I’m counting on Nokia and Msft to kick some smart into phones. Now let’s make me rich in 3 years! Waiting for Nokia tablet in Petaluma, CA