Microsoft Working on Windows Phone 8 Reference Designs for Chinese Market?

Recently Qualcomm has expressed quite a bit of interest in expanding into the Chinese market and competing directly with popular local chipset makers like MediaTek. Now it seems that Microsoft might be joining up with Microsoft to do some recruiting in China as well.

The new rumor indicates that Qualcomm and Microsoft are working on a series of entery-level and midrange reference devices for the Chinese market.

The idea isn’t to sell Microsoft/Qualcomm hardware directly to consumers, but instead is to provide a “proof of concept” to attract Chinese companies and show them that Windows Phone 8 can be produced in an affordable package that can be aimed towards everyday users in emerging markets– China obviously included.

The hope is for Microsoft to release these Qualcomm-powered reference designs in mid-2013, and hopefully start working with Chinese companies to release handsets based on the references by early 2014.

While Qualcomm is expected to be involved in these reference designs, MediaTek isn’t being left out completely. According to the reports, some of the lower cost and midrange references will run on these cheaper Chinese chips. With MediaTeks’ expertise particularly in designs that are dual-SIM friendly and quad-core friendly on the cheap, perhaps future Windows Phone 8 devices could eventually see such capabilities?

China is a huge market and there is a ton of growth potential for Microsoft and its partners. Right now, Android variants largely rule the smartphone scene in China, but Microsoft and Nokia have already proven that consumers are interested in alternatives as the Lumia 920 has been a smash-hit there, although the 1-penny pricing with contract is probably a big part of that success.

Bottom-line is that Apple might be one of the most popular brands for smartphones and tablets in the United States, but we live in a big world. If Microsoft can target emerging markets while continuing to grow its existing marketshare in the United States, Europe and elsewhere– then they could truly have a hit with Windows Phone 8. The strong connection with Windows Phone 8 and productivity apps like Office also could make WP8 devices appealing for those in the Chinese business world, though right now it seems that Microsoft is more interested in targeting the average Chinese consumer.

What do you think of Microsoft’ new strategy to reach out to developing markets like China? Will it help cement Microsoft’s place in the mobile world?

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