I mentioned this story in the blog story yesterday with the update about the smartphone bloodbath. But as the story is spreading very widely, I need to make the point explicitly.
Microsoft COO of Greater China, Michel van der Bel has been quoted very widely claiming that Windows Phone smartphones, especially the Nokia 800c are outselling the iPhone in China. This is utterly untrue. This is totally baseless. It is a palefaced lie. It is bullshit. Paging Truth Police. What is truth about Windows Phone in China, and why is Microsoft (and Nokia) spreading this kind of misinformation?
TOTALLY UNTRUE STORY - STOP SPREADING THE LIES - CORRECT YOUR STORIES, REPUTABLE JOURNALISTS !!
Lets go through the facts. First - NONE, and I mean NONE of any reported stories by independent sources suggest any kind of massive surge of Windows Phone sales in China. None whatsoever. Please check and do Google search where you ignore stories referencing Mr van der Bel. Look at stories before 14 May, 2012, and look for any reported independent news (ignoring Nokia or Microsoft claims). If there was a rush to buy Nokia Lumia 800c or the two other Windows Phone handsets sold in China, there would be huge stories of sales rampages in retail shops from Shanghai and Beijing to Chongqing to Urumqi. Try to find one. The only sales rampages that were in China, were with iPhone 4S launch, not Lumia 800c.
Secondly, if this was happening, it would be the biggest smartphone success ever seen in any market and it would be reported everywhere. I do mean anywhere. Apple just sold 19% of the Chinese market smartphones in Q1 according to Canalys. Remember the sales hysteria of the iPhone launch in the USA in 2007? They didn't achieve 19% in two months of US smartphone sales. They did not achieve 19% of USA smartphone sales - in two years! And it was the best smartphone launch in history supported by the biggest tech hysteria ever seen, and driven by Steve Jobs and his electrifying presense. If Windows Phone is now outselling iPhone in China - and did this in 2 months - it would be the biggest bestselling smartphone launch in history. It would be on nightly news on all Chinese TV channels - with Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop prancing on stage all over China regularly. Remember the iPhone hysteria back in 2007? Where is the Chinese version of David Letterman and Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brian and Saturday Night Live doing big Lumia stories now? If that was the hysteria and hype of the biggest smartphone success ever seen, it would be regularly reported as astonishing China stories also in Western media, on CNBC and Bloomberg and CNN and BBC - and all the big analyst houses would be screaming about it in the press. Did you see any stories of a Windows Phone hysteria happening in China prior to May 14? Any? Even one? Even one story before this astonishing news? Did you see any stories of customers camping outside stores to get one? (Did you see any stories of the success, other than Microsoft's moutpiece Mr Bel and some rather tame Nokia PR statements?). I went through more than 500 separate news stories on Google News before 14 May using the filter of "Windows Phone" and "China" and foundnot one - not one - not one - not even one - reporting any kind of even the slightest sales rush or success of Windows Phone or Nokia Lumia in any - any - ANY - Chinese city or market or region or press or store. Not one.
Thirdly, Apple is having a huge time in China. If Microsoft's Mr Bel wanted to pick a story that was at least 'plausible' then take Motorola or HTC, former Chinese smartphone players who recently have seen falling market share. That story would be believable. But not Apple, not iPhone, not in China! Did you not just see Apple report its Q1 results (calendar quarter, ie January-March quarter) where Apple said its strong growth was driven by its China sales? Apple is growing in China, not shrinking. And note, that giant growth in China was done without the iPhone 4S selling for the full quarter! Now, Q2 (April-June) is the first full quarter the Chinese get of the iPhone 4S - it will likely be even better now!
Fourtly, all evidence by independent reporting is to the contrary - Canalys has reported in May that current China market share of Apple iPhone is 19% in smartphones, Samsung is at 22% and Nokia has fallen to third place. Even if all Nokia smartphone sales were Lumia 800c models - it would not be more than the iPhone.
Fifthly, part 5-A: the Lumia 800c, which is supposedly the engine of this growth in China, is not sold by China Mobile the carrier who has 72% of the Chinese market! And part 5-B: The Lumia 800c is also not sold by China Unicom the second biggest Chinese carrier who has 22% of the market. Yes. Evidence Part 5-C: The Nokia Lumia 800c is only sold by the tiny China Telecom, the smallest of the three Chinese carriers who has 6% of the Chinese market. And this should now have somehow exceeded all iPhone sales in China? Dream on Chester!
Sixthly, Samsung is China's bestselling smartphone. You might be forgiven for thinking, that because Samsung offers Windows Phone smartphones, it therefore must contribute to the Chinese Windows Phone surge. Sounds reasonable. Except Samsung sees global rejection of Windows Phone, does not even offer the Windows Phone versions of Samsung smartphones currently in Europe nor.. in China.
Seventhly, HTC is the other big Windows Phone maker apart from Nokia? They do offer one Windows Phone based smartphone in China, the HTC Triumph (ie Titan). But HTC expressly are seeing a decline in their market share in China right now, this Spring. (If you remember Dell also selling Windows Phone smartphones - yeah, they quit selling Windows based smartphones, as has LG, as has Sony, as has Motorola, the Windows Phone alliance is dying).
Eightly, Windows Phone does not have any meaningful portfolio of apps in the Chinese language (there are a few) whereas Symbian, Android and iPhone have tons. Note, for most Chinese consumers, a Western app with say maps to US highways or cities, is utterly pointless for China. Twitter isn't used in China, and so forth. You need Chinese apps. 'windows Phone did not exist as an OS platfrom in China this March. What apps exist in Chinese are few and far inbetween. Most of those are hasty auto-generated translated versions of Western apps, of little use in China. Why would you use for example Ebay in China when there are massive Chinese eCommerce and auction sites.
Ninthtly, Microsoft is a weak brand in China, for example the Xbox 360 one of Microsoft's best brands, is illegal in China. The Windows Phone brand was not even in existence in China before April. Windows Mobile was a total flop in China when attempted. But Symbian had over 80% market share of smartphones in China as recently as 2010, with Nokia having nearly 78% of the smartphone market according to Canalys.
Tenthly, Nokia? So Mr Bel claims the Nokia Lumia 800c is powering the China surge (on a carrier who has 6% of the mobile subscriber market, remember China Telecom is a fixed line operator, most of their subscribers are fixed landline telephone users). What of China Mobile who has 72% of the market? Nokia introduced the 801T for China Mobile (running - yes - Symbian). These are roughly in the same price range and for consumers have a similar number (801 vs 800) but the 801 is 'one better' and runs on the network that is far bigger.. I wonder which sells more. I mean,China Mobile is.. ELEVEN times bigger than China Telecom! And on Symbian there are tens of thousands of apps that are in Chinese, and have carrier-billing. This against a couple of hundred Windows Phone Chinese language apps, most which are very poorly ported weak versions (remember, even Rovio refused to bother to make a Windows Phone version of Angry Birds, because the installed base is too tiny, and only agreed to make an Angry Birds version after Microsoft dumped tons of cash into Rovio to pay for the version).
Eleventhly, there is actual independent reporting on whether Lumia is selling hotly in China. Finland's commercial TV broadcaster MTV3 reports explicitly on Chinese sales of Lumia as being 'tame' (in Finnish: 'Laimeasti' is translated by Google Translate as 'tamely'). They contrast the Lumia launch with that of the iPhone 4S which caused stampedes at Apple stores so severe that some stores had to be closed. MTV3 point out that there is nothing similar at big Beijing handset stores for Nokia Lumia.
Twelfthly this is standard Nokia and Microsoft marketing spin, any normal person would call lies and deception. When asked by MTV3, Nokia Communications Director Anna Shipley says "I can tell you that we are very satisfied with the feedback of both consumers and the carriers" but she refuses to release any numbers. (translation is mine, from MTV3 explicit quotation of Anna Shipley's response). Note how similar that was to how Nokia marketing spin doctors were reporting from Germany and the UK when Lumia originally launched - then months later, Elop was accusing resale channel of not selling Lumia properly. This is exactly the same marketing spin that for example Nokia China spokesperson Wang Jingqiu said last month that supposedly "sales had been brisk in all sales channels." This is exactly the same 'satisfactory' sales and 'brisk sales' that we heard Nokia talking about from Lumia launches for example in the UK - but later Nokia CEO Stephen Elop would actually criticize the UK sales channel for bad performance. The spin doctors again. We see it from the UK to the USA, from Germany to China. Always the same pattern, the promises of great sales before any numbers come out, then after the fact, come the news that the carriers actually are rejecting Lumia sales - store sales staff rejecting Lumia sales (as Nokia CEO Stephen Elop admitted to Nokia shareholders when asked about retail sales reluctance) and of the global sales reluctance by carriers to sell any Windows Phone handsets, due to Microsoft having bought Skype (another fact, Elop admitted to the Nokia shareholders this month).
Thirteenthly - The evidence of users is nowhere of any surge in China. Why is Statcounter (which measures behavior, so this would be installed base, actual users of Lumia and Windows Phone users, not shipments from the vendors to the retail channel, possibly sitting in warehouses not being sold). Statcounter finds 0.4% of smartphone use in China from all Windows Phone currently. That is yes, less than one percent. Nothing. Zero. Nada. While Symbian generates.. 17% (yes only 42x bigger). And iPhone 15% (only 37x bigger than all Windows Phone). By what metric is Windows Phone outselling iPhone? Perhaps Microsoft uses imaginary numbers to report on its performance. Hello?
Fourteenthly - the measured stats for total Nokia sales are well below Apple sales. I showed Canalys stats in the above. Now lets return to MTV3 and its story. MTV3 reports that Nokia current market share in China is under 15% - again, even if all Nokia sales were only Lumia smarthphones - and they are not, as there is lots of Symbian and MeeGo based N9 sales also in China, but even if all of Nokia currently was just the Lumia 800c, it would be nowhere near the 19% that Apple iPhone is selling in China right now.
Fifteenthly - the evidence from Chinese retail stores reporting top-selling smartphones in China show no evidence of any Nokia Lumia 800c or other Windows Phone success, among bestselling smartphones. While such online store evidence is not strong proof of success (such rankings can be manipulated by clever propaganda experts, like Microsoft and Nokia did for the Lumia 900 USA launch, as I explained yesterday), but the lack of evidence of strong online sales is strong proof there is no success.
Sixteenthly - The operating system environment is measured also not to allow such rapid change. Canalys reports Android has two thirds of the Chinese market! Add to that iOS at 19% and you've got 85% of the market right there. Then there are Symbians, MeeGos (N9 is a big Nokia seller in China), Blackberries, badas splitting that remaining 15% pie. Remember, Symbian was China's bestselling OS two years ago and has a large apps portfolio and Symbian based Nokia smartphones sell on all three operators. And somehow what remains of this 15% slice should help make Windows Phone, coming from zero percent literally zero, nothing in Q1, to over 19% now in Q2. Not happening. Not on this planet. Not in this universe.
Seventeenthly - The usage stats from one of China's most used mobile services, Sina Weibo (China's version of Twitter, as Twitter is not allowed in China) has 300 million users, the majority of them access on mobile phones and as of May 16, they had 115 million smartphone users, as reported by ZD Net Asia. Biggest user numbers? iPhone and Android. Also Symbian scored well. How did Windows Phone user base do now, on China's most popular microblogging service? Together with all users on Blackberries and Android Tablets, all Windows Phone combined with those two - scored under 1% of total users! I'd dare say Blackberry and Android Tablets have been in China far longer and have more of an 'installed base' of active users, so Windows Phone would be luckly to have a third, maybe as little as one tenth of one percent of Chinese users. Again. I ask you, where is the evidence of ANY success of Windows Phone in China?
Eighteenthly - The Chinese Windows Phone based experts know there is no such surge. The actual reporting from China, by experts friendly to Windows Phone, are saying the opposite. Check out chassit, at WPSauce, a Windows Phone friendly site from someone living in Beijing and using a Windows Phone handset. chassit reports:
"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."
He is a Windows Phone fan, he lives in China, he uses Windows Phone and he reports in Chinese smartphone matters and he concludes his blog article: "Here in the circle we all love Windows Phone 7. But fanboyism and unrealistically wishful thinking are not something we should dwell in."
TIME TO CORRECT THE STORY
I urge all journalists and bloggers and experts to call bullshit on this bogus story by Mr van der Bel of Microsoft. Please call him out on it. Please do your own independent research on the story, see what other analysts say, what actual China experts say, what the analyst houses say, and what measured behavior of China consumers reveals. There was no huge surge in Chinese smartphone buyers rushing madly to buy Windows Phone and Lumia 800c smartphones. The stores were not stampeded. There was no sales surge. Please correct your stories, if you are honest, if you want to be credible news sources.
And feel free to quote this story and link to here. Thank you. Its time to call the Truth Police on Microsoft (and Nokia) for lies about the Chinese Windows Phone and Lumia sales. No, it is 100% certain, there was no world-record jump in smartphone sales suddenly in China. Remember, this is exactly the same marketing spin that Microsoft and Nokia did with the Lumia launch in Europe last November and in Asia in December and in the USA in February. How the sales were so far above expectations. Remember those utterly bogus claims by Nokia that in the UK consumers were tired of iPhones and shifting to Lumia instead. Typical marketing spin say the communication experts. Typical lies, say the normal people. Shame on you Microsoft for lying to the world about Windows Phone and Lumia.
BTW if you want to know why this is happening, there is actually an orchestrated war on the truth (yes, a war against the truth) by Microsoft now also used by Nokia. There are court documents that explain what Microsoft is doing and we see the latest evidence from Nokia that CEO Stephen Elop, an ex Microsoft guy, has brought that hostile marketing war to Nokia as well. Read all about the playbook of how the Axis of Evil, Microsoft+Nokia wage now the War Against the Truth in my Postcards from the Digital Jamboree