Microsoft Ready to Rumble with Apple in Chinese Markets

By Steve Anderson March 22, 2012

While the Chinese have been very big in the action film business for quite some time now—I personally have a whole list of titles that I'm very fond of in that sphere myself—one particular battle is shaping up that's every inch the equal of any big battle that Jet Li or Jackie Chan may have staged. And that's the battle between Microsoft and Apple in the Chinese smartphone market.

Word has emerged that Microsoft is looking to become number one in the Chinese smartphone market, with a variety of new phones coming out not only from Nokia and HTC, but some future models from Samsung and ZTE set to hit by the end of the year. Though Microsoft currently accounts for significantly less of the Chinese smartphone market than Apple does, the Chinese division of Microsoft has a plan: it's going to compete on price.

Simon Leung, the chairman and CEO of Microsoft's Chinese arm, went on record with Bloomberg to say that between Windows Phone's low prices, and abundance of handsets thanks to a variety of new partners, they have the goal of the iPhone's defeat in China well in sight.

Considering that Windows Phone devices are set to sell for 1,000 yuan (roughly $158 US), while Apple's sell at 4,988 yuan (just south of $789 US), he may have a point. But the issue at hand is that Apple has been charging premium prices all over the planet pretty much since the original iPod rolled out, and no one's seemed to mind shelling out the extra cash for the Apple goods in that whole time, despite a global economy that looks less like the dot-com boom and more like a car wreck.

Plus, even assuming that Microsoft can beat Apple, they still won't have achieved the number one slot they so richly crave, as Android devices outsell Apple's by a pretty significant margin themselves.

However, beating Apple is within the realm of possibility, so says word from IDC, a research firm, which speculates that Windows Phone's sheer multiplicity of options—there is only one Apple phone out there, not counting its earlier version—will be more to the Chinese taste. Given the success of Android, it may not be price so much as variety that the Chinese markets enjoy, and with a variety of partners ready to get going by the end of the year, it's very possible that IDC's target of Windows Phone outselling Apple by 2013 may well come to pass.

 It's going to be a fight for sure, and clearly, Microsoft will not be taking any reversals lying down. The only real question will be just what the Chinese marketplace wants. Based on the current reports, though, it would seem that Microsoft is emulating Android more closely, and the Android market is significantly larger in China than Apple's is.

Of course, the relative ease of including Android in a smartphone may have contributed to that, not to mention any potential lawsuits Apple manages to win over Android devices. But this is going to be a fight, no two ways about it, and a fight on which we'll have to keep a constant watch.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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