Struggling phone maker Nokia has launched its first smartphone design for China, looking to the world’s biggest mobile market to help change its fortunes.
Nokia said its new Lumia 800C is designed to run on China’s networks and will be supported by China Telecom, one of the country’s three major state-owned carriers.
Finland-based Nokia launched a corporate turnaround effort a year ago after falling far behind Apple and other competitors in tapping into the popularity of smartphones.
China is the world’s biggest mobile phone market with about 900 million accounts, and is Nokia’s biggest market.
“China is critically important for Nokia,” chief executive Stephen Elop said.
The Lumia 800C will go on sale in early April for 3,599 yuan (€426.39).
He said Nokia and China Telecom plan to release a lower-priced model, the 610C, aimed at students and other budget users. The Lumia 900c and the 710C sold in other markets would also be brought to China over time.
Mr Elop was joined at the launch with China Telecom Chairman Wang Xiaochu and executives of other partner companies.
Once the bellwether of the industry, Nokia has lost its dominant position in the global mobile phone market, with Android phones and iPhones overtaking it in the smartphone market.
Asian manufacturers are also squeezing it at the low-end. Its market share plummeted to below 30% last year from 40% in 2008.
The company announced earlier this year that it would stop assembling phones in Europe by December as it shifts production to Asia and will cut another 4,000 jobs, its latest attempts to cushion itself from stiff competition.
The cuts come on top of nearly 10,000 layoffs announced last year.