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Nokia ready to launch Lumia 920 phone in China

Published December 05. 2012 4:00AM

Nokia, the Finnish mobile-phone maker trying to win back customers of Apple's iPhone and devices using Google's Android, is set to unveil a version of its flagship smartphone for China's largest wireless carrier, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Nokia plans to announce an agreement with China Mobile to sell a Lumia 920 compatible with the country's homegrown TD-SCDMA technology that powers the carrier's network, said the person, who asked not to be identified before an official release. The handset, which comes in black, white, yellow and red, will go on sale in China before the end of this month, the person said.

Nokia, which has seen its smartphone market share plummet in the past five years, is depending on the success of the Lumia line to help it rebound from six consecutive quarters of losses. A deal with China Mobile, which isn't able to sell the iPhone because of its network standard, will also widen the Hong Kong- based carrier's range of more expensive smartphones to battle for market share.

China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile-phone company, had 703 million subscribers at the end of October, including 79.3 million users of high-speed, third-generation services that allow smartphones faster Internet access. The carrier competes with China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Telecom Corp., both of which sell subsidized iPhones.

James Etheridge, a Nokia spokesman, declined to comment on plans for the Chinese handset. Rainie Lei, a China Mobile spokeswoman, couldn't immediately be reached after regular business hours in Hong Kong.

Li Yue, China Mobile's chief executive officer, said in August that he would boost handset subsidies by 30 percent to 26 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) this year as he fights to maintain its lead in smartphone customers, who typically download more videos, games and music.

A faster connection and Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows Phone 8 software are among the features Nokia is touting as the handset maker tries to lure back consumers.

Apple and Android now control almost 90 percent of Europe's smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics.

Nokia's shipments in China slumped 64 percent to 5.8 million units last quarter from a year earlier as consumers abandoned handsets based on the Symbian software the manufacturer is phasing out. The Espoo, Finland-based company's third-quarter net loss widened to 969 million euros ($1.3 billion) from 68 million euros a year earlier.

Nokia shares have fallen 33 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 9.5 billion euros. The stock climbed 0.4 percent to 2.53 euros on the Helsinki exchange yesterday.

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