The Wild, Wild East: Windows Phone Makes Official Chinese Debut Today

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恭喜!Microsoft has officially launched Windows Phone in China today and while they deserve a pat on the back for making it happen, they’ve got a great wall to overcome if Windows Phone is going to be a real contender in the Chinese smartphone market.

As mentioned before, the first new Windows Phone to hit China is the HTC Eternity (or Triumph, or Titan, as it was previously known). According to Microsoft’s Windows Phone blog, the Eternity is being sold as an unlocked device complete with a “slew of popular Chinese apps” as well as a new simplified Chinese interface.

There’s plenty more hardware to come though, with Nokia on deck to launch a trio of Windows Phones on the mainland next week. Though specifics are still sparse at this point, the Nokia Lumia 719 is expected to be among them. The device was first spotted in the Bluetooth SIG’s almost a month ago, and a recently leaked image reveals a device that (to no one’s surprise) looks an awful lot like a 710 with a redesigned button layout. Local manufacturer ZTE will also be throwing its hat into the ring with devices like the budget-conscious Tango, which is expected to launch later this year.

While Microsoft and their hardware partners are working to make sure the launch is a success, it’s the long game Microsoft really has to worry about. According to PC World, Microsoft Greater China CEO Simon Leung confirmed to reporters that the company aims to take Google’s place atop the Chinese smartphone heap despite only accounting for only 2.8% of the market right now. To put that in perspective, Android was said to make up over 50% of the smartphone market in China last November, so Microsoft clearly has their work cut out for them.

Low-cost hardware is going to be a key driver for Windows Phone’s growth, and it seems like Leung is set on fighting Google on that front too. While flashier devices like the Eternity sport price tags in excess of ¥4,000 ($632), he says he hopes to bring prices for unlocked Windows Phone devices as low as ¥1,000 yuan ($158).