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Nokia signals China ambitions

By Shen Jingting | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-07 09:38

Nokia signals China ambitions

Visitors taking pictures of new Nokia devices during the Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, Spain, in February. Across the world, Nokia remains the No 1 Windows Phone vendor, with a market share of 78 percent last year. [Photo/China Daily] 

Finnish firm hopes to regain lost ground with its Windows Phone devices

This year could be a tipping point for Windows Phone device manufacturers such as Nokia Oyj with early indications the handsets have achieved a good start in major smartphone markets including China, according to the boss of Nokia China.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Gustavo Eichelmann, chief executive officer of Nokia China, expressed confidence in Nokia's turnaround in China, as well as in the global smartphone market in 2013.

Mexico-born Eichelmann took the job in China amid a turbulent time. He has been the third China chief since Nokia devoted itself to developing smartphones on Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system in 2011.

Finland-based Nokia held almost half of the smartphone market share in China more than two years ago, but the figure slipped to a mere 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter last year, according to Beijing-based firm Analysys International.

"It is because it has only just begun," Eichelmann said. "Think about iPhone and Android devices in their first six months. If you look at the Windows Phone, its trajectory is actually right on track. There will be an increasing but gradual acceleration in 2013. If we fast-forward to 2016 and we look back, you will see that 2013 was the turning point in terms of changing the trajectory."

One of the possible reasons why Windows Phone devices may enjoy greater popularity is because more people will get to know about the platform. Microsoft, the developer of the Windows Phone operating system, has begun introducing Windows PCs and Windows tablets with exactly the same user interface.

"More people know about the system. The viral effect - word of mouth - is starting to take place," Eichelmann said.

Competitive market

Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia Corp, said at the end of last year that China is the biggest market globally for Nokia's Lumia series Windows Phone devices.

The company launched its first Lumia smartphone in China in early 2012. Since then Nokia has introduced eight Lumia models to the Chinese market.

Across the world, Nokia remains the No 1 Windows Phone vendor, with a market share of 78 percent, compared with HTC Corp's 14 percent and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's 6 percent, according to a Forbes report.

The company sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones worldwide in the fourth quarter. Nokia Lumia 920, the latest Nokia flagship smartphone that runs on the Windows Phone 8 operating system, received "extremely encouraging feedback" from Chinese clients, Eichelmann added.

"The simple target for Nokia in China this year is growth," he said.

From subways and shopping malls to chic flagship stores in Beijing, various Nokia advertisements, fronted by Chinese singers and movie stars, have been attracting people's attention.

Li Yan is a 28-year-old worker in the finance industry in Beijing who wants a new smartphone. "The first mobile phone brand that popped into my mind was Nokia. It seems that I have a natural affection for the brand," Li said.

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