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Nokia Oyj (NOK), the Finnish mobile-phone maker trying to win back customers of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and devices using Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android, unveiled a version of its flagship smartphone for China’s largest wireless carrier.
China Mobile Ltd. (941) agreed to carry the Lumia 920T, which is compatible with the country’s homegrown TD-SCDMA technology that powers the carrier’s network, the companies said in a statement today. The handset, the first Lumia based on Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows Phone 8 software for the Chinese market, costs 4,599 yuan ($739) without a contract and will go on sale before the end of this month.
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. The deal with China Mobile, whose network standard has prevented it from carrying the iPhone, will widen the Hong Kong-listed 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 give smartphones faster Internet access. The carrier competes with China Unicom (762) (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. (728), both of which sell subsidized iPhones.
Nokia jumped 9.7 percent to close at 2.77 euros in Helsinki for its biggest increase in four months. Its American depositary receipts rose (NOK) as much as 6.1 percent yesterday after Bloomberg News reported the agreement. The Espoo, Finland-based company has a market value of 10.4 billion euros ($13.6 billion). China Mobile climbed 1.5 percent to HK$89.75.
Apple was down 4.3 percent to $553.33 as of 11:46 a.m. in New York, after falling as much as 5.3 percent. The stock has advanced 42 percent so far this year before today.
“Our close cooperation with Nokia is a key contributor to the success of China’s TD industry, and will further enhance the rapidly growing TD ecosystem,” China Mobile Chief Executive Officer Li Yue said in the statement.
Li 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’s 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.
The Lumia 920T comes in black, white, yellow and red, and features the Pureview floating-lens picture technology that takes in more light without using a flash.
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 company’s third-quarter net loss widened to 969 million euros from 68 million euros a year earlier.
The smartphone maker expanded its offering today, unveiling the Lumia 620, its cheapest Windows Phone 8 smartphone so far. The device, which comes in a variety of colors, will cost $249 without subsidies and starts shipping next month, Nokia said in a statement.
Nokia Siemens Networks, the Finnish company’s phone- equipment venture with Siemens AG (SIE), today agreed to sell its billing and customer-support division to Redknee Solutions Inc. (RKN) in a transaction that will see the transfer of 1,200 workers to the Canadian company.
--Adam Ewing in Stockholm, with assistance from Edmond Lococo in Beijing. Editors: Kenneth Wong, Simon Thiel
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