Windows Phones To Arrive in Coming Months

Microsoft is planning to rev up the mobility market under its "Windows phone" brand.

The company initially launched a Windows phone campaign back in October. At that time, Microsoft announced that various OEM partners were building new mobile phones using the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system. Those efforts will soon bear fruit, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

"Over the coming months you will see a regular drum beat of exciting new devices from our partners as well as regular updates to our software to keep pace with evolving demands for great browsing experiences, touch screen capabilities, and services," the spokesperson noted in an e-mail on Tuesday.

The new mobile offerings may mark a departure of sorts for the company. Microsoft's mobile strategy has been somewhat stagnant since it entered the market in 2000, according to Matt Rosoff, vice president of research at Directions on Microsoft.

"The Microsoft mobility story is one of tragically missed opportunities," Rosoff said in a telephone interview. "They started off competing well with Palm Pilot in the beginning, but they were slow to evolve. Then, when Apple introduced the iPhone in the consumer market, it literally took them by surprise."

Microsoft has been playing catch up ever since, according to Rosoff.

For its part, Microsoft is sticking with its traditional platform approach, offering software that can run on a variety of phones and across numerous service provider networks.

"Microsoft is committed to giving its worldwide partners the tools and programs they need to successfully launch and sell Microsoft offerings," the Microsoft spokesperson stated. "Guiding the delivery of Microsoft resources is a clear strategy that takes a business framework approach to map tools and resources for partners at each step of their business cycle."

The company already announced several Windows phone components in October, including an Office Mobile 2010 beta, a new My Phone app for backup and sharing files, and an online source for mobile apps called Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

"They don't want to be in that [phone hardware] business," said Rosoff, who added that the new branding element, Windows phone, will apply to a range of device makers, but will carry a distinctive user interface that will correlate with other Windows offerings.

"They are coming off a huge missed opportunity, which is the consumer side of the smart phone market," said Rosoff. "I think we will see some major improvements [in their mobile offerings] next year when Windows Mobile 7 is introduced."

He noted improvements in Microsoft's Zune being incorporated into Windows phones as well as some gaming elements. Both will help compete against leaders such as Apple and Google.

Rosoff said that the smart phone market does not have room for five or six major players. If Microsoft is going to succeed it will have to be in the top three, he added.

"I think the smart phone market could produce from 10 to 20 percent of future overall revenues for Microsoft," Rosoff said. "But, I think their real focus is to make sure other companies don't get a platform edge that might compete with other Microsoft offerings down the line."

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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