Nokia 920 in China hardware restricted to (crappy) China Windows Marketplace
I live in Beijing and just bought a Lumia 920 for my wife as she wanted a sturdy phone with a large screen that our baby isn't likely to break. (I'm a happy iPhone user myself and no fan of Windows, which I ditched 10 years ago for Linux and Mac after suckling at MS' bosom since Win3.1, but I must say that the Lumia 920 is a beautiful piece of hardware, arguably the best of any phone so far. And while I find the WP UI a bit frustrating, I think they hit on a winner with Live Tiles.)
I started trying to set her up with collection of useful apps only to find out that every single one I wanted was "unavailable" in the China Windows Marketplace. I'm not referring to the usual suspects like FB and Twitter, but pretty much any good app that I looked for. Even Skype, owned by MSFT, wasn't available!
After hours of frustrated attempts at switching Marketplaces (which, unlike iOS, can only be done once when first setting up the phone--if you want to change it later, you have a to a full factory reset—stupidity) and getting nowhere, I finally got ahold of a MSFT support staff online who was helpful, friendly and informed, but unfortunately told me that the model sold in China (the 920T to be specific) is hardware restricted to the China Marketplace. This piece of rather critical information isn't mentioned on the Windows Phone site anywhere (and a Google search didn't turn up the info either). There's no such thing as returns here in China (not with phones at least), so we're stuck. Thankfully my wife doesn't care as much about apps as I do, so it's not the end of the world. If it were my phone ... It made me realize how little use I would get out of a smartphone without a good selection of apps.
Anyway, besides wanting to get some good from my experience by warning people to make sure that the WP model they buy outside the US isn't hardware restricted to the app store in their country (which may or may not be full of crap), I was wondering if anyone in other countries has had that experience with their WP or if it's something specific to China, or any experiences related to Marketplace restrictions. Why are there so few apps on the China Marketplace anywhere? Do devs have to submit their apps to each country's store individually (in which case, I can see that being a hassle that many would not bother with).