Earlier this week, we reported that Microsoft-Nokia deal is in the second-phase of anti-trust investigation in China, as Chinese OEMs and regulators fear that Nokia’s patent fees for the China’s domestic handset vendors might go up after this deal gets over. Today, Bloomberg reported that local Chinese OEMs has asked regulators to make sure Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s handset business doesn’t result in higher patent fees on wireless technology.
Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp.asked China’s Ministry of Commerce to set conditions on the deal making sure Microsoft doesn’t raise patent licensing fees afterward, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The ministry is conducting an anti-monopoly review of the deal.
Microsoft and Nokia is expecting to close the deal in early 2014 and any delay in China due to the above issues may further push the deal closing date in 2014. I hope Chinese regulators and Nokia soon sort out the differences to clear this deal.
Speaking to the Financial Times, He Shiyou, executive vice-president and head of the handset business of ZTE said the company would return to producing Windows Phone handsets, after initially being put off by Microsoft’s deal to purchase Nokia’s handset division.
Microsoft executives visited ZTE this month to reassure the company that the US group wanted to maintain a wide network of handset makers rather than simply make its own Windows phones.
“Initially we were hesitant [but] after clarification from Microsoft about industry support we are willing to commit to Windows platform again.”
He Shiyou told FT the company wanted to make the jump out of the “second tier” of smartphone makers into the top three manufacturers, currently being placed either 4th or 5th in the rankings, with about 5% of the market, and would consider acquisitions or mergers to grow market share.
“The next three years will be critical for ZTE’s devices business. There is a window of opportunity to push ZTE into the top three in terms of market share,” he said.
We have previously heard that the company intends to release a â€œpremiumâ€ Windows Phone 8 handset, but it remains likely that the eventually device will not command a high price, which should be good news for those looking for a good Windows phone 8 handset on a budget.
WinCP.cn reports that Dennis Lui, ZTE’s phone marketing strategy manager, has tweeted a picture of what appears to be a Windows Phone range by ZTE on the 16th.
The picture is blurry (seemingly intentionally) but the fact that they are Windows Phone handsets are clear.
The picture was accompanied by the caption:
“Two heads are better than one, MacroHard”, “Two heads are better moral of Microsoft’s three systems: WP7.5, WP7.8, WP8 MacroHard Microsoft “Microsoft” joked – “Ju hard”.
The line refers presumably to the presence of both Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 handsets in the market at the same time or of using both Android and Windows Phone.Â It has been rumoured that Microsoft intends to keep Windows Phone 7.x alive to address the low-end of the market while using Windows Phone 8 for the mid to high end smartphones.
ZTE has released some Windows Phone 7.5 handsets before, including the ZTE Tania.
Lui also tweeted another picture of an unknown Windows RT tablet which can be seen after the break.
The majority of ZTEâ€™s smartphones run Android, but Cheng told CNET he prefers Windows Phone over the Google OS.
"In my personal experience, the iPhone, of course, has a well-polished user interface experience," Cheng told CNET. "And then Windows, and then Android."
ZTE currently have 2 Windows Phones in their stable, the ZTE Tania and the ZTE Orbit, currently being sold in China and UK.
Cheng said it was difficult to convince Microsoft to allow them to make the low-end Windows Phones they needed to compete in the market. With the help of Nokia Microsoft did however come round in the end.
"The prices of products aren’t decided by what you do as a company," Cheng said. "It’s more decided on the competition and the market."
Cheng said he believes Microsoft’s mobile OS has all the elements to be successful in the market.
"Fundamentally, for the health of the ecosystem and industry," he said, "we need a third operating system.
WPDang reports that ZTE is planning to announce a Windows Phone running Tango for the Chinese market at Mobile World Congress over the next few days.
The handset will apparently be a volume play and will have identical internals to its recently announced Mimosa X Android handset, which features a 4.3-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, front-facing camera, and 4GB of internal storage.
The handset is expected to launch in April and will be priced competitively with the Nokia Lumia 710.
The mock-up of the handset, by WindowsPhoneDaily.com, is based on the ZTE Mimosa, and the Windows Phone version is not expected to be too much different.
The ZTE Tania has been announced for distribution in the UK. The budget handset will be available on Go Mobile, Virgin Mobile and possibly Expansys or Phones4U and will be on sale for only Â£10-Â£20 on contract , which is a great price for a 4.3 inch screen, 5 megapixel camera and 1 Ghz processor.
The handset also comes with mobile hotspot enabled from the start, something TechRadar notes even the Lumia 800 did not manage.
The handsetâ€™s main defect is the non-expandable 4 GB storage, with only 2.5 GB available to the user, but reviewers note the screen is also of pretty low quality, but that is rather to be expected from a budget handset.
Slashgear notes the camera is pretty reasonable (right), and the 1400 mAh battery managed to last a full day on default settings.
Leila Martine, director of Windows Phone UK, told Pocket-lint: "Having ZTE join the Windows Phone family is great news. Their expertise will be crucial in delivering Windows Phone to new and different customers. We look forward to continuing and developing our relationship with ZTE in the future".
ZTE has told AllThingsD it intends to bring a Windows Phone to USA this year. The company already produces the low-end but good looking ZTE Tania, which is being sold carrier-branded by SFR in France.
The company will likely take a similar carrier-branded approach in USA.
â€œWe understand the U.S. market is primarily a market driven by the carriers,â€ ZTE U.S. CEO Lixin Cheng said in an interview at last weekâ€™s Consumer Electronics Show. â€œCompared with some of our competitors, we are more willing to customize our product.â€
Cheng noted that Microsoft is a key partner for his company for its current â€œMangoâ€ version of Windows Phone, as well as for its upcoming â€œTangoâ€ low-end effort. ZTE is also interested in what Microsoft has in store with Windows 8.
â€œWe will launch an LTE smartphone, tablet and mobile hotspot, and other data products in the United States,â€ Cheng said. â€œThatâ€™s our strategy this year.â€
The company will deliver both Android and Windows Phone devices however.
â€œWe will make sure we have a wide competence in-house to support both operating systems,â€ Cheng said.
ZTE is currently the world’s 4th largest OEM, and hopes its low-end ambitions will provide it with even more success.
The ZTE Tania is now available on SFR France as the â€œWindows Phone Internet Phone, the Windows Phone by SFRâ€
The 10.7 mm thick device with a 4.3 inch screen unfortunately only has 4 GB storage, with only 3 GB available to the user which is not expandable. The marketing emphasize the 25 GB storage on SkyDrive.
The handset is being sold as a white label device by the carrier, without any ZTE branding, for SFR, and appears to cost 269 Euro unlocked.
Having recently repeatedly run into the 8 GB limit on my HTC Trophy, do our readers think Microsoft is doing the image of Windows Phone damage by allowing a device with such low, non-expandable storage to be shipped? Let us know below.
ZTE, Chinaâ€™s biggest handset OEM and rapidly rising in the ranks worldwide also, has told the Wall Street Journal it intends to expand into US with high-end smartphones running either Android or Windows Phone.
"Next year, we’re going to launch LTE and high-tier phones in the U.S.," said Lixin Cheng, president of ZTE North America. The company was in talks with carriers about the phone, which will either run Android or Windows Phone and will have ".. a similar feature set [as the iPhone], â€œ, but be "more affordable".
"By 2015, we expect the U.S. to be the largest market for handsets for ZTE," he concluded.
While ZTE primarily use Android in their smartphones, they have also released a Windows Phone, the ZTE Tania, which is seeing wide distribution in Europe already.