China Mobile Confirms Plans to Launch Windows Phone 7 “Tango” Smartphones
China is one of the world’s biggest mobile markets, with about 1 billion subscribers. As such, smartphone brands and manufacturers like Apple see China as a growth market, which is evident with how demand for the iPhone 4S has users lining up in droves and driving Apple Stores and carriers out of stock. However, China’s biggest mobile provider, China Mobile, still does not support the iPhone 4S for the sole reason that Apple does not have a TD-SCDMA variant of their iconic smartphone.
But with China Mobile confirming the launch of Windows Phone 7 devices within the year, does it mean that Microsoft gets a big boost in terms of subscriber numbers from the network?
China Mobile has confirmed that it will soon release a Windows Phone 7 handset, which is compatible with its own 3G network, reports The Next Web. According to a report by Marbridge Consulting, China Mobile Guangzhou branch general manager Pan Zhiyong says the company will soon release a TD-SCDMA WP7 handset, although it’s unclear whether this will be one of Nokia’s Lumia smartphones or one by HTC.
Either brand is likely to be China Mobile’s partner, as both HTC and Nokia have plans to provide Windows Phone 7 devices to the Chinese market. In fact, HTC has already pre-launched the Triumph handset in China, which is the first Windows Phone 7.5 “Tango” device released here. Microsoft’s strategy for its Tango series involves optimization for lower-end devices, which will help the platform become more popular in this price range. Earlier releases of Windows Phone 7 handsets were mostly aimed at the higher-end market.
China Mobile currently has 650 million subscribers. And since earlier estimates peg China’s smartphone penetration as about 17% compared to its entire mobile population, the potential smartphone upgrade path for Chinese mobile users means the market is looking good for Microsoft and its platform partners.
If Apple wants a slice of this pie, it will need to come up with an iPhone that’s compatible with China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA standard. There are actually 15 million iPhone users on the network, although these can only connect using 2G technologies. A Windows Phone 7 device compatible with its higher-speed data network might come as a boon to subscribers, especially if these are available to the entry-level market.
Nokia might be one clear winner if its plans to reclaim its lost market share in the country will come into fruition. Nokia is working on deals with China Telecom and Chian Mobiel for the provision of WP7-powered handsets. Nokia has likewise announced plans to move its Asia headquarters from Singapore to China, a sign that the Finnish company is adamant at focusing on this mobile market.
Apple’s market share in China has been slipping, in deference to Android-powered handsets offered by local brands like ZTE, Huawei, and Korean Samsung. Apple says a TD-SCDMA iPhone will be available by June this year, which might help win over China Mobile subscribers. However, with news that Windows Phone 7 will be launching with China’s biggest mobile carrier, Apple might have to act sooner than later in order to protect its market share in the country.