Microsoft says Windows Phone beats the iPhone in China

Windows Phone 7 may be struggling worlwide, but it's overtaken the iPhone in China after only two months, according to a Microsoft official. Do the Chinese know something that the rest of the world doesn't?

The online Dutch magazine Emerce quotes Michel van der Bel, Microsoft chief operating office the Greater China region as saying that Windows Phone now has a market share of 7 percent, even though it was launched in China only two months ago. Van der Bel claims that the iPhone market share is 6 percent. (Note: All information and quotes for this blog post are based on the Google Translate version of the article.)

The iPhone has certainly had its problems in China. Several months ago, Reuters reported that iPhone market share had slipped to 7.5 percent in October through December, 2011, from 10.4 percent in July through September, 2011. If van der Bel's numbers are accurate, they've slipped again since then.

Van der Bel expects Windows Phone market share to grow, saying, "We've only just begun." Then he goes on to say something rather curious. He is pinning the growth on:

"Our smartphone and PC-tablet hybrid, which is suitable for the consumer, but also easy to insert in an existing business infrastructure. This allows us better than most competitors respond to the consumerization of IT."

Perhaps I've missed something, but I don't recall there being a Windows Phone-tablet hybrid. Has something been lost in the translation?

He's likely referring to the expected Windows Phone 8 phone-tablet hybrid that Nokia is believed to be working on.

Windows Phone success in China may be due to Nokia's strong presence in the country, although Nokia's one-time domination has slipped. In the first quarter of 2011, Nokia had more than 40 percent market share of the Chinese market; by the fourth quarter, that had slipped to 24.3 percent, according to Reuters.

Still, that's a sizable market share. Using that presence to boost Windows Phone in China may be one example of the Microsoft-Nokia partnership paying off for Microsoft. Elsewhere for Windows Phone, the news tends to be all bad. But in China, at least, the operating system seems to be gaining traction.

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