Microsoft launched its flagship online store in China today on Tmall.com, in a move that could help bolster the market share of its hardware, including tablets and smartphones in that country.
Operated by Alibaba Group, Tmall.com is China’s largest consumer e-commerce platform, with more than 50,000 merchants. According to market research firm Euromonitor, Tmall is set to overtake Amazon by 2015 as the largest Internet retailer in the world.
Microsoft’s Tmall site follows Microsoftstore.com.cn, which it launched last October. The new site will offer over 50 products and be directly operated by a team in China which will oversee merchandise, offers, and promotions based on local consumer demand. Items available include: Microsoft Surface and accessories; Microsoft online store’s Up & Running service for Surface; Microsoft Office; Windows Phone devices; Microsoft hardware and accessories; and Microsoft Online Store’s signature PCs, which will be available soon.
Giving Chinese consumers easier access to Microsoft products online is one way to help boost Microsoft’s market share in that country. According to IDC, shipments of the Surface RT tablet in China only reached 30,000 units during the fourth quarter of 2012, and its market share among all tablets in the Chinese market was just one percent. In comparison, Apple had a 62 percent share of the tablet market in China, while Android devices held a 36 percent slice.
Other efforts Microsoft has made to grab more consumers in the world’s largest smartphone, PC, and tablet market include inking a deal with China Unicom, the country’s third largest wireless operator with over 70 million subscribers, to boost sales of the Windows Phone. According to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, the Windows Phone holds less than 3 percent of the market in China.