Windows Phone already overtaking iPhones in China? What is this nonsense?

A few days ago there came this interesting news that Windows Phone has already overtaken iPhone in terms of market share in China. Apparently words first got loose from Emerce. The story is not in any language that I can personally read. But according to the retelling of other site such as WMPoweruser and WPCentral, Michel van de Bel, Microsoft’s COO of the Greater China Region, said in an interview that Windows Phone has already seized 7% of overall Chinese phone (or smartphone, not specified) market share, ahead of iPhone’s 6%. And all that happened in mere two months.

Now this is pretty interesting. I’m a Chinese phone watchdog living in the country’s capital City. On Beijing streets I’ve been witnessing iPhones literally everywhere, used by every kind of people. On the streets, in the subway, in restaurants, or even in the hands of courier boys. It’s basically normal for me to take a stroll anywhere in the town, and spot at least 10 iPhones. What about Windows Phone 7 devices? Well, except for my own old HD7, my wife’s Omnia 7, and various devices owned by the WPDang boys, I’ve found less than 5 of them in the wild since the beginning of 2011: one HD7, two Omnia 7 last year, one Lumia 800 last month, and one Lumia 710 last week.

The world’s a pretty funny place eh? This supernova grasping 7% of the national market is like ten thousand times harder to spot than its 6% follow-up. Nonsense, that’s what I’m feeling, subjectively.

Now objectively, let’s talk in earthling logic.  Let’s assume the 7% figure is the market share in *smartphones* instead of all phones. Because, you know, with the incredibly huge number of mobile phone users in China, it’s obviously insane  if anyone remotely suggests some new player could possibly take 7% of the whole cake in 2 months. Even if someone could sell a new product that fast, I doubt if any factory on this planet could manufacture fast enough to keep the supply up.

So far there’s no definite figure about the total number of Chinese smartphone users. However, according to Strategy Analytics, the total smartphone users in China has surpassed that of the USA by the end of 2011. The US smartphone user base has reached 100 million already. Let’s take that number for a quick math. Assuming China also has 100 million smartphone users, 7% of the whole market would be 7 million. We know Windows Phone 7 is a fresh starter, from ground zero. That would translate into “Windows Phone 7 OEMs managed to sell 7 million devices in China in no more than 2 months.”

Now how many Windows Phone 7 OEMs are actually selling their products in China now? The answer is TWO: Nokia and HTC. How many devices are they offering? THREE: Lumia 800, Lumia 710, HTC Titan (rebranded as Triumph). How many Chinese carriers have they been working closely with in that time frame? ONE: China Telecom, the smallest of China’s three carriers.

Now with the above facts, anybody still want to believe 7 million Windows Phone 7 devices have somehow been sold in 2 months, in China alone? That’s pretty crazy. I’ve tried hunting around the Chinese web trying to find supporting sources or figures. But all I could see is the Emerce story being translated into Chinese and spreading everywhere. Interesting, huh? Apparently something huge is happening in China, only the Chinese do not know about it, and have to get the news from foreign media.

There must be something terribly wrong on Microsoft’s or Emerce’s end. If possible, I’d like to see the transcription of Michel van der Bel, preferably with audio record. Here in the circle we all love Windows Phone 7. But fanboyism and unrealistically wishful thinking are not something we should dwell in.

11 thoughts on “Windows Phone already overtaking iPhones in China? What is this nonsense?”

  1. You don’t understand what is a market share.. You are confusing market share and install user base… 7% market share in 2 months means that 7% of the smartphones sold during these 2 months were Windows Phones… So, no, it’s not 7 million, because I doubt 100 million smartphones were sold in China in 2 months !

    1. It is really tragic how few people, including prominent bloggers, really understand what market share means, and how each analytics company uses the term.

      eg. NPD uses marketshare to mean % of sales over the last month, while Comscore means % of cellphone owners in the USA. Even if you had 100% NPD share in one month, that will only win you 4% Comscore market share, given the 2 year replacement cycle of phones.

      Taking the above example into account, imagine what the Lumia’s retail market share must be in Finland to take 8% installed base in 3 months. Likely in high 30% range.

      1. Hey guys. Yes I might have the concept of “market share” in question mixed up. But even if it means the percentage in new sold smartphones, Windows Phone 7 taking over iPhones in 2 months is a bit like a tall story. “iPhone” is an extremely well established brand here, sold by two of China’s three carriers (China Unicom, and its smaller sibling China Telecom), Carrefour, WalMart, Suning (gadget mall), Dazhong (gadget mall), Gome (gadget mall), plus Apple Stores and countless Apple authorized resellers. While WP7 devices are sort of unheard of to non-geeks, sold through China Telecom, certain Suning & Dazhong branches, and *some* Nokia stores in the 2 month frame. It’s a bit unrealistic such a fresh start overtake iPhones in the first battle.

        And the rarity of such devices in the wild. I was expecting great sales of Lumia 800 and 710. Since the debut event, I’ve been keeping attention to all phones in the streets. Still, very hard to find one, in the recent 2 months or any other month.

        The lack of Chinese data source is yet another problem. Wondering where they got the 7% figure. Seriously in the Chinese web, the only story to support this very story is its own Chinese translation. I guess maybe Microsoft was talking about the percentage of phone sold THROUGH ONE SPECIFIC CHANNEL (like China Telecom). This would make a lot more sense.

        1. Nokia is also a firmly established brand and the phones are much cheaper than iPhones (1/4 of the price). Also we have the same story from Russia. Presumable HTC’s ans Samsung’s Android phones also outsell the iPhone in China.

          1. Availability, man. Plus, Nokia is losing it in China, too. Recent researches are not even finding Nokia devices on the top 10 anticipated product list. Even S60 devices are much harder to spot these days than back in 2010. Wherever you go, the street view is basically all sorts of cheap Android phones plus a hell lot of iPhones. Frankly I’ve seen more N9 than Lumia 800, Chinese edition or smuggled. As to HTC and Samsung’s Android phone*s* outselling iPhones, it’s not a question. That’s an one-sided war like 100:1. With WP7 here, it’s Lumia (2) plus the Triumph (1) vs iPhone (1). I’m not even sure if the Triumph is really there. Not seriously looking for it, but haven’t seen it in any phone store so far. Ads yes, but actual promotion no.

            Actually I’ll easily buy it if the numbers are coming from China Telecom’s two-month sales results. China Telecom just got the iPhone aboard very shortly before the big Lumia launch. If there’s any chance the new boy beats iPhone upon first contact, it should happen on China Telecom’s turf, where both sides are sort of starting on the same line. 

  2. Remeber not too long ago when Apple said it was closing the store(s) in China for a short period of time because they feared the safety of its employees? I did then and I do now, it was nothing but a bunch of “HYPE” marketing by Apple.

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