Chinese manufacturer Phicomm looking at Windows Phone?

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German language site, in a report from Cebit, says that Phicomm, a Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer, is in early stage negotiations with Microsoft about Windows Phone handsets. Phicomm, which currently produces a number of low cost Android devices, is best known in Western markets for its networking equipment (routers, powerline, and access points).

Phicomm is the brand name for Shanghai Feixun Communication Co. Ltd. The company is typical of the multitude of small Chinese manufacturers that are creating phones largely by building off the back of standard reference designs, effectively putting together products from off the shelf components. These companies do make some efforts to customise the design or software, but the biggest selling point is usually the low cost of the devices.

The report comes from a conversation with Martin Klinger from Phicomm Europe who said the company is planning to make tablets and smartphone powered by Microsoft software and is currently in negotiations with Microsoft. note that, if plans do progress, it is likely to be some time before any Windows-based products are released.

It's clear that a number of Chinese OEMs are actively looking at Windows Phone, but that does not necessarily mean products will reach the market. The Chinese OEMs are largely driven by customer demands and market trends. Even so, the fact that manufacturers are considering Windows Phone can, however, be seen as an encouraging sign for Microsoft.

It does make sense that Windows Phone, given Microsoft's active courtship of partners and its multi-manufacturer strategy, would follow a similar pattern to Android in the lower tiers of the smartphone market. A significant portion of Android's growth in 2012, especially in Asia, was the result of shipments of lower cost smartphones by these second and third tier device manufacturers.

It's important to emphasise that it is still very early days. The lack of choice, maturity, and completeness in Windows Phone based reference designs is a major stumbling block. Developments in this area, which could be seen as early as the summer, are the key early indicators, if the Windows Phone platform is to enjoy an Android like manufacturer proliferation.

The Phicomm stand at Cebit

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