Microsoft Won't Test Chinese Smartphone Market Till 2012
December 5, 2011 2:51 PM
Missing out on the world's biggest market is a blow to Microsoft
China recently surpassed the U.S. to become the world's biggest smartphone market. The Chinese market is a bit like the U.S. market -- Google Inc.'s (
) Android operating system is on top with a dominant 58 percent market share. Some players are doing a better job in China than eleswhere -- Nokia Oyj. (
), for example, owns a 23 percent stake of the lucrative Chinese market despite floundering in the U.S.
Microsoft Corp. (
) is an example of the opposite extreme. Whatever small success it has seen in the U.S. smartphone market is nonexistent on the Chinese market, because Microsoft hasn't bothered to launch Windows Phones there.
Originally Windows Phones were expected to launch in China sometime H2 2011. But as the final month of 2011 slides by, Microsoft has officially punted that launch until 2012. The delay is a costly one for Microsoft, as it could have benefited from the open-minded Chinese consumers, many of whom are buying a smartphone for the first time.
Speculation is that Microsoft either was unsatisfied with its localization (e.g. character representation, local services, etc.) or that it was unable to iron out plans with its patners in the region.
Microsoft is reportedly in negotiations with
China-based ZTE Corp.
Telecommunications Comp., Ltd., and Lenovo Group, Ltd. (
). China's Lenovo group is the
fastest growing PC maker in the world
If there's one piece of good news, it's that Nokia's strong market share virtually guarantees Microsoft a decent piece of the pie when it enters the market in 2012 -- around the same time Nokia plans to advance plans to
phase out Symbian and phase in Windows Phone 7
Windows Phone is faring only slightly better in the U.S. than in China in sales, given
how low its U.S. sales are
. Microsoft has
vowed to change this
via better carrier incentives to sell Windows Phones, trying to match the tactics of Google and Apple, Inc. (
) who typically give tidy commissions to sales people who sell customers on their top handsets.
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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