At this very moment, Nokia has factories that produce mobile devices in 9 countries around the world: Finland, Brazil, China, the UK, Hungary, India, Mexico, Romania, and South Korea. Even so, it looks like the Finnish giant has contracted a Taiwanese ODM to manufacture Windows Phone handsets for it.
According to DigiTimes and unnamed “industry sources”, Compal (one of the biggest Taiwanese ODMs) has already landed orders for some Nokia Windows Phone devices, which should be shipped starting the fourth quarter of the year – I don’t expect Nokia’s first WP smartphones to arrive earlier anyway.
So, that Nokia Sea Ray we’ve seen yesterday (pictured below) running Windows Phone Mango will probably be mass manufactured in Compal’s factories.
Nokia has worked with Compal in the past, also for a Windows product: the Booklet 3G – which may not be a great commercial success, but is (or at least it was for the 2009-2010 standards) a pretty good 10-inch netbook.
Interestingly, DigiTimes notes that Compal and Microsoft have directly signed a licensing agreement, which enables the Taiwanese company to use the Windows Phone platform and “build up a foundation based on it that will enable it to shorten time to market for customized smartphones, while expanding the pool of Windows Phone-based clients.” In other words, Compal will ready one or more reference designs (at standards set by Microsoft), and companies that are allowed to sell Windows Phone handsets – Nokia included – will come with their own-designed cases to make a final WP product.
But why would Nokia contract an ODM instead of making Windows smartphones in its own factories? Well, cost savings – that’s certainly one of the reasons. Nokia will definitely try to prices its first Windows handsets aggressively, to make customers turn away their heads from the multitude of cheap Android smartphones that have recently flooded the market.
Compal expects to ship a total of 4.5 million smartphones by the end of 2011, and I’m really curious to see how many of those will be Nokia-branded. Of course, we won’t know this until early 2012, when Nokia should publish its Q4 2011 and full year financial results.
It’s said that Compal will also make Windows Phone handsets for Acer (which, just like Nokia, is new in the Windows Phone game). One of the first Acer WP devices may be the W4 – not a high-end device, but that’s why it could be sold for a really attractive price.
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