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Is Microsoft Taking a Bite of Apple's Chinese Success?

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This year, China will surpass the U.S. as the largest smartphone market in the world. That's why the major tech players are all lustfully eyeing the region.

The latest partnership to be announced: Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  )  is hooking up with China Unicom (NYSE: CHU  ) , the second-largest wireless carrier in the world's most populous nation. China Unicom had 163 million subscribers at the end of October, including 70 million 3G subscribers.

According to China Daily, the alliance is expected to help boost Windows Phone's market share in the Chinese market, which currently sits at less than 3%. Investors may remember that China Unicom was Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) first Chinese carrier partner to launch the iPhone along with its 3G network back in 2009, so Microsoft is butting in on one of Apple's iPhone carriers.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner added, "China is the No. 1 market worldwide in terms of PC, tablet, mobile and Internet users. It is a very exciting place."

Much like in the U.S., Chinese carriers have an incentive to diversify their platform base, and Windows Phone is becoming a viable alternative. China Unicom general manager Lu Yimin said the carrier would help promote Microsoft's platform.

This official pairing comes just days after HTC launched its Windows Phone 8X and 8S on all three major Chinese carriers. Microsoft's main mobile hardware partner Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) also announced that it was launching a version of its new flagship Lumia on China Mobile's (NYSE: CHL  ) network this month -- a much larger subscriber opportunity for Microkia, with over four times as many total subscribers (but only 9 million more 3G subscribers).

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop recently said that China was the biggest market for his company's Lumia lineup, but didn't provide any unit sales data. For reference, Nokia sold 2.9 million Lumia devices last quarter, which was 46% of its overall smartphone shipments.

With Windows Phone devices now available on all three major carriers, some market share gains may be in order.

It's been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who've watched the company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth in mobile over the past decade. However, with the release of its own tablet, along with the widely anticipated Windows 8 operating system, the company is looking to make a splash in this booming market. In this brand-new premium report on Microsoft, our analyst explains that while the opportunity is huge, the challenges are many. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2012, at 4:10 AM, H3D wrote:

    "Is Microsoft Taking a Bite of Apple's Chinese Success?"

    Is Nokia dumping unsold Lumia in China at a loss?

    Apple doesn't buy market share. It doesn't need to.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2012, at 1:21 PM, jameskatt wrote:

    Are you kidding?

    Microsoft is completely FAILING against Apple in the tablet and cellphone markets.

    What fool would buy a Windows tablet or cellphone?

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2012, at 11:50 PM, fideline wrote:

    As of now, Nokia Lumia 920 is the best seller on Expansys Hong Kong and the different skus occupy positions # 1, 3, 7, 9, 15 and Lumia 900 #18!!!!

    The #1 is the yellow color and Expansys is carrying 5 different Lumia 920 skus.

    I am surprised that people like the yellow color because in Europe (Phonehouse, Expansys) it's still the yellow that comes on top!!! I personally like the grey or black color for a phone.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2012, at 6:37 AM, wilsantiago wrote:

    @ jameskatt

    I bought a Windows Nokia Lumia 920 and so would a lot of other people. The Lumia 920 BEATS the iPhone in every technological category and you know it. Display, camera, microphones, wireless charging, NFC, Nokia Maps and Drive, and even Windows Phone 8 OS is more pleasing in many ways than the stale IOS. Once people begin to realize that the iPhone is sub-par to other phones including Samsung Galaxy phones, Apple stock will start dropping as it has started already. Advice to you SELL while you can.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2012, at 11:36 AM, chilero wrote:


    I also bought a Windows Phone and a Surface. Love them both and will be buying WP8 as soon as I can. They are beautifully designed and the live interface is modern.

    The Surface is a huge hit in my family. Everyone has their own account so I don't have to worry about anyone goofing around on my email or twitter.

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