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Monday, March 26, 2012

Nokia Stores Selling a Variety of Phones in Nanping, Zhuhai

The Android store I saw in Nanping, Zhuhai was unique in my experiences. However, as I mentioned when sharing photos of the inside of the store, I think it is important to shed more light on what is and is not unusual about the store by providing some additional context.

I will now share some similar examples of stores in the same shopping district highlighting another world-famous brand -- Nokia. Although Nokia may still be the single most popular brand of mobile phones in China, Nokia's strength in China has declined -- in part related to the rise of Android devices. However, Nokia hopes a line of newer phones running Windows Phone 7, including the Lumina 710 and the Lumina 800, re-boost Nokia's prominence in China.

Down the street from the Android store this Nokia store* may not seem striking from afar:

People selling clothes and shoes on the street and store with a large Nokia sign in the background

Similar to the Android store, a Chinese name is also on the sign. But its name "诺基亚(名流)专营店", which can be translated as "Nokia (Celebrities) Authorized Store",** is more specific than the Android store's Chinese name. It would seem to further suggest that this store focuses on Nokia products. However, as one approaches the store there are indications it has a more varied selection:

Store with Nokia sign in Nanping, Zhuhai, China

The greenish display is for Oppo, a Chinese brand with Android-based smartphones. Those with keener eyes may also notice displays for Koobee and Xiaomi, also Chinese brands. More is revealed as one gets even closer:

view of inside of a mobile phone store

Oppo's "Find Me" media campaign featuring Leonardo DiCaprio can be seen on the left side. Other brands available in the store are also clear such as Apple, BBK, LG, and Samsung. Is this Nokia store unique? Not at all:

Store with large Nokia sign also showing signs for Apple, Android, and Samsung

Store with large Nokia sign with displays for Apple and Motion

Store with large Nokia sign displaying Apple products

Again, these are all within easy walking distance from the Android store and they all sell a variety of Chinese and foreign branded phones despite so prominently displaying "Nokia"on their store signs.

Although Nokia seemed to receive this treatment frequently, it certainly was not alone. For example, here is a Samsung store:

store with large Samsung sign displaying Nokia and Apple products


And here is a store combining the spirit of Samsung and Nokia:

store with many Nokia signs with a larger Samsung sign at the top

They both sold a variety of phones. Amongst other brands, the second store sold Moral phones (also a Chinese brand) and the staff wore shirts with the Android robot logo.

The above provides a taste of the store sign issue. Another feature of the Android store was the variety of phones that could be found in a display case with a specific brand name. This is another area in which the store is not unique. Here is a relevant example from a display case sitting outside one of the many mobile phone stores in the area:

Nokia display case with non-Nokia phones

It includes mobile phones of Chinese brands such as Daxian and Telsda. You may now be thinking "Hey, there are iPhones too!" However, those are not iPhones. The remarkably familiar-looking phones are made by Chengji (诚基). Whatever their story, they are not made Nokia.

I saw numerous other examples of display cases with mismatched phones. It appeared to be very common.

There are some further issues I would like to touch upon and other "interesting" photos I would like to share, but I have already shared quite a bit in this post. For now, I just want to say that based on my recent explorations across China what I have shared above is not unique to Nanping, Zhuhai. I do not believe it is highly unusual for a mobile phone store to sell a variety of brands despite prominently displaying a specific brand on its store front and for it to maintain display cases containing phones not matching the name on the display. What was particularly unique (to me) about the Android store was that I had never before seen a mobile phone store in China leveraging the Android brand so prominently and extensively. The store's inclusion of phones not based on Android may seem striking, but as some Nokia store owners in Nanping could quickly tell you it is not unique in that respect.



* I realize there could be a debate as to whether the terms "Android store" and "Nokia store" are appropriate. I am fine with them being interpreted as shorthand for "Store apparently portraying itself with a sign as an Android phone dealer" and "Store apparently portraying itself with a sign as a Nokia phone dealer" respectively. In a later post, I hope to touch on why it is reasonable in China to interpret the signs in this manner.

** I have seen a few people claim that "名流" is best translated in this case as "famous". My understanding is that "名流" is a noun typically specific to people. In that case, using "famous" could lead to unintended interpretations in English. I thank my Chinese friend who does professional translation work for her input on this matter. Regardless of the translation, it is not of much relevance to the main points I have made.

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