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Finland's Nokia looks to Internet sales to revive fortunes in China

Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia Corp. has adopted an aggressive method to revive its Chinese market performance by cooperating with e-commerce websites and expanding its online sales.

The company signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Chinese online retailer 360buy.com Thursday. The latter agreed to procure 2 billion yuan (US$320 million) worth of mobile phones from Nokia next year.

The Chinese company is the second-largest business-to-customer e-commerce retailer in China, having annual sales of 30.8 billion yuan in 2011.

Nokia will also introduce Nokia 2050, the first Nokia device sold only through online channels in China, said Gustavo Eichelmann, chief executive officer of Nokia China, at a Beijing news briefing.

“Online shopping is booming in China,” Eichelmann said. He emphasized the importance of e-commerce, but said Nokia will not open its own mobile phone e-store, a move which Chinese rivals Xiaomi Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. have already taken.

“Nokia will strengthen cooperation with third party e-commerce websites,” Eichelmann said in an early December interview with China Daily. All future Nokia devices will sell through online and offline channels in China simultaneously, Eichelmann confirmed.

Wang Xiaosong, vice president of 360buy.com, said that about 3,000 units of Lumia 920, Nokia's latest smartphone with the Windows Phone 8 operating system, had been ordered the first day the product landed on 360buy.

China is Nokia's biggest single market, having a customer base of more than 200 million. However, Nokia's ranking in China's mobile phone market has been declining quickly in recent years.

Nokia had a 3.63-percent share of the Chinese smartphone market in the third quarter, down from 18 percent during the same period last year, according to the Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. Samsung Electronics topped the list with a 15.3-percent market share.

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