* Partners with China Mobile, world's biggest carrier
* Flagship smartphone available for order by end-2012
* China Mobile does not have a contract to sell iPhones
* Nokia shares up 8.7 percent
(Adds analyst comments, updates share reaction)
By Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI, Dec 5 Nokia is to partner
with China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile
operator, in a sales deal that will give the Finnish company an
opportunity to win back Chinese market share from Apple's
China Mobile, which has more than 700 million subscribers
but no contract to sell iPhones, will start selling a version of
Nokia's flagship Lumia 920 smartphone in the world's largest
Nokia shares were up 8.7 percent at 2.75 euros on the
Helsinki bourse at 1305 GMT.
"They will have an advantage that their main competitor
doesn't have," said analyst Eric Beaudet from Natixis
The phone will be available for order in Chinese market by
the end of the year at a retail price of 4599 yuan ($740).
Sales of Nokia's new Lumia 920 and 820 models --- which
operate on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 software -- are
seen as crucial for the Finnish company as it tries to regain
global market share from Samsung and Apple.
"It is not a surprise, but it still means a giant
opportunity for Nokia, maybe one of the best opportunities for
its smartphones right now. This market has a lot of piled-up
demand for high-end smartphones," Nordea Markets analyst Sami
Nokia's stock is still down 28 percent this year, although
it has edged higher in recent weeks on hopes of promising Lumia
"People around the world are responding positively to the
new Lumia devices, and we are confident that the enthusiasm will
extend to China," president and chief executive Stephen Elop
said in a statement.
Also on Wednesday, Nokia unveiled the Lumia 620, its
cheapest Windows 8 smartphone. It will be priced at $249 and go
on sale in January, at first in Asia. Analysts saw the launch as
another reason for the upbeat share reaction.
"It seems they are able to lower Windows Phone prices quite
quickly, quicker than most people anticipated," said Beaudet.
Nokia's share of the global smartphone market has plunged to
less than 10 percent from 50 percent during its heyday before
the iPhone arrived in 2007. Today, Nokia relies on Windows after
dumping its own software platforms last year.
Nokia has faced fierce smartphone competition in China from
local rivals after it started selling its earlier Lumia series
there in the first half of the year.
($1 = 6.2256 Chinese yuan)
(Additional reporting by Chyen Yee Lee and Terhi Kinnunen;
Editing by Dan Lalor, Hans-Juergen Peters and Giles Elgood)