Unlike Apple, Nokia now has a partnership with China Mobile that gives the struggling mobile maker a shot at future growth.
Moreover, there are many diehard Apple fans in China, where brand-conscious consumers have shown an insatiable appetite for iPhones. It’s important to note that China has already become Apple’s second largest market after the U.S. If an Apple-China Mobile partnership deal materializes in 2013, “Apple could win over 13% of China Mobile’s 3G customers, grabbing sales of 10 million to 16 million iPhones in the first year alone,” Amit Daryanami, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, recently told Forbes.
Of course, China Mobile subscribers could buy full-price iPhones on the open market and use them on China Mobile’s slower 2G network. (China Mobile uses its own proprietary TD-SCDMA standard, hence iPhones don’t now work on its faster network.) To my surprise, as many as 20 million China Mobile customers are believed to be already doing just that.
How Nokia’s Lumia 920T Windows 8 smartphones might actually claim mind share among Chinese consumers at a level approaching the iPhone is impossible to predict. For now, Nokia has the best chance to leverage its strong relationship with the world’s largest mobile carrier.
In other words, it’s now or never, and Nokia must seize the opportunity.
The Lumia 920T will be available by the end of the year. It will retail at RMB 4599 ($732) without a service contract. Meanwhile, the 16-GB iPhone model without a contract is reportedly priced at around RMB 5288 ($842).
China Telecom has been taking orders for iPhone 5 since Nov. 20. China Unicom, its main rival and China's second-largest carrier, has so far receive more than 100,000 online orders, according to the Web site Sina Tech.