With 1M pre-orders in China, the Nokia X could be a hit after all

In just a few days since orders began, the Android-powered(s goog) Nokia X(s nok) handset quickly hit a milestone: One million handsets ordered in China. The news surfaced in a Friday posting by Nokia on China’s Weibo site and was later retweeted by the Nokia Twitter account.


Orders for the handset, which was announced at last month’s Mobile World Congress event, started on March 10 according to GForGames. That makes the milestone fairly impressive as Nokia hit the mark in four days. Granted, one million handsets in a country with a total population topping 1.3 billion people is a small percentage overall. However, it signifies that Nokia could be on to something with its strategy to use Android phones to seed emerging markets with Microsoft(s msft) services.

Nokia X group

When the company announced the Nokia X, some suggested Microsoft could and will scrap it; Microsoft offered $7.17 billion for Nokia’s phone business but the deal hasn’t officially closed yet. Microsoft previously said the deal should close in the first quarter of 2014, so I’d expect news any day.

I expect Microsoft will keep the Nokia X lineup in the mix because it offers something that Microsoft itself doesn’t: A trio of low-cost handsets that can introduce millions of new customers to SkyDrive, Xbox Music, and Outlook to name a few services. Microsoft can’t do that with the Nokia Asha phones so the Nokia X fits in between Asha and Windows Phone. It also borrows the Fastlane user interface from Asha, which can further help customers transition and trade up.

Since I haven’t used the phone — it won’t be coming to the U.S. — I can’t speak to its performance and user experience. However, when compared to the Asha phones, I suspect it’s a step up. A million people may think the same already, based on China’s pre-order numbers.

My colleague Alex Colon did spend a few minutes with the handset, so if you’re in a market that expects to see the Nokia X for sale, this video is a good preview of what you can expect.