Nokia to edge out HTC in WP8 market in China

PRODUCT PORTFOLIO POWER ::Analysts have said that HTC’s focus on the Android system may be to its detriment as Nokia forges a partnership with Microsoft

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Oct 08, 2012 - Page 14

Finnish handset maker Nokia Oyj will have a better chance than Taiwan-based HTC Corp (宏達電) of succeeding in China’s Windows Phone 8 (WP8) market thanks to its better product portfolio, research firm Gartner Inc said recently.

Although HTC is expanding its retail presence and is improving its relationships with Chinese carriers, Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft Corp will give it an edge in selling WP8 phones, said Roger Sheng, a Shanghai-based research analyst at Gartner.

“It’s not just about the number of distribution channels but also the product portfolio,” Sheng told reporters.

Since Nokia has bet on the Windows software to revive its sales, the company will definitely launch new models covering the full pricing spectrum, from entry-level models costing US$150 to high-end phones priced at US$600, Sheng said.

“HTC still focuses on the Android system rather than Windows, indicating that it has devoted less manpower to the Windows platform and will have a weaker product portfolio than Nokia,” he added.

Moreover, Nokia is expected to receive subsidies from Microsoft for its WP8 marketing expenses and royalty payment obligations, while HTC still needs to pay Microsoft royalties, Sheng said.

Once the largest mobile phone makers in China, Nokia is also expected to promote its new Windows models in China more effectively than HTC, given the Finnish maker’s solid relationships with distributors and telecoms operators, the analyst said.

Nokia, which announced in February last year a broad strategic partnership with Microsoft, launched its WP8-based Lumia 920 on Sept. 7, with emphasis on its powerful “PureView” camera and built-in wireless charging. HTC also unveiled its first WP8 smartphones — the 4.3-inch HTC 8X and the 4-inch HTC 8S — in New York on Sept. 19.

The phones feature Beats audio technology and improved camera capabilities. In addition to its battle with Nokia, HTC is facing increasingly intense competition from Chinese handset makers using Google Inc’s Android operating system.

HTC is expected to remain the sixth-largest Android maker in China by taking an 8 percent market share this year, the same share it grabbed last year, according to data compiled by the Taipei-based Topology Research Institute (拓璞產業研究所).

China’s Lenovo Group (聯想) and Huawei Technologies Co (華為) will each account for 14 percent of total Android phone shipments this year, behind Samsung’s 24 percent, the institute said.

Last year, Lenovo held only a 5 percent share of Android phone shipments in China.

Chinese brand Coolpad (酷派) will likely rank fourth and see its Android market share rise from 9 percent last year to 13 percent this year, while fifth-placed ZTE Corp (中興) of China will expand from 10 percent to 11 percent, the institute predicted.