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Windows phone slowly accelerates amid Android difficulties

The stars are slowly aligning in the favor of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) mobile operating system, Windows Phone.

I. Verizon Looks to Windows Phone for Fresh Blood

After months of rumors, Verizon Wireless -- a joint subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) and America's largest carrier -- confirmed this week that it's going big with Windows Phones this fall.  Comments Tami Erwin, "[Big Red] sell multiple Windows Phones in the fourth quarter."

The Verizon pickup is a game-changer for Windows Phone, if nothing else because it brings in over 100 million potential customers.  To date Verizon has been a virtual non-factor in Windows Phone sales, carrying only one model -- the Trophy (nearly identical to the HD7) by HTC Corp. (TPE:2498).  Carrying weak hardware at the time of its 2011 launch and overpriced at $149 USD w/ contract, about the only thing the Trophy had going for it was the Windows Phone user interface, which generally receives the most enthusiastic reviews from device owners of any of the mobile operating systems.

The Verizon announcement opens the door to slick handsets like Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930aluminum-unibody ATIV S and Nokia Oyj.'s (HEX:NOK1Vcolorful Lumia 820/920s with PureView lenses.  Samsung is rumored to be preparing a more budget-minded 4-inch Windows Phone handset for the market.  HTC is reportedly planning a Sept. 19 Windows Phone event where it will unveil two next generation handsets.


Verizon could receive hot handsets like the Lumia 920.

Modern Windows Phone handsets have fared remarkably better than first generation models.  Thanks to better integration, more apps, and better hardware, the Lumia 900 by Nokia has become a mild hit on AT&T's network, moving a few million units, according to Seeking Alpha analyst Kyle Spencer.

And what's good for the goose is good for the gander -- Verizon Wireless's support of units like the Droid was a key driver of Android's early growth.

A leak to Engadget showed that gray and white Nokia Lumia 820 variants (the "Lumia 822") are headed to Verizon this fall.

II. Factors Stack up in Microsoft's Favor

A key driver of Windows Phone pickup has been patent litigation.  Patents have played a pivotal role in power struggles of the U.S. tech industry since its earliest days.  AT&T Inc.'s (T) precursor Bell Telegraph and Telephone initially used patents in the 1800s to build its phone and telegraph line monopoly.

Today Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is scoring massive fines and U.S. bans on various HTC and Samsung Android devices. In addition, HTC is already paying Microsoft nearly $10 per Android handset and Samsung is paying $15 per handset, so Windows Phone's relatively steep $30 USD per device [source] licensing fee suddenly doesn't look so bad.

That's not to say Android won't hang in there, but the fallout of Samsung's massive billion-dollar court loss to Apple is clearly convincing third-party mobile device makers to consider Windows Phone as a hedge to their Android bets.  Likewise, carriers like Verizon are eyeing Windows Phone devices as a hedge to their handset selection -- after all if some of your top selling Androids get banned, you want to have something to offer the customer other than just an iPhone.

Verizon
Windows Phone offers Verizon a hedge against handset bans. [Image Source: PC World]

Windows Phonemakers have far less to fear thanks to Microsoft's powerful cross-licensing pact with Apple, which dates back to the 90s when it bailed out the struggling electronics veteran.  The pact has thus far completely shielded Microsoft's OEM partners from Apple's legal belligerence.

A final factor is Windows 8.  While criticism abounds among certain industry figures, the new operating system does provide one crucial advantage to Windows Phone.  By forcing the "Windows 8 theme" (formerly known as "Metro", but retitled to avoid trademark infringements with Metro AG (ETR:MEO) in Germany) on customers (via the reskinning/unwrapping of the start menu), it's pushing mass acceptance for the stylized "look" of Windows Phone.  And Windows 8 will be making a grand entrance into the mobile space itself, with a large hybrid and tablet push.

In that regard Windows Phone may experience a "halo affect", styling, software, services, and user interface similarities across the iPod, iPad, and Mac line helped bump Apple's iPhone sales.

For Microsoft -- who once owned a quarter of the mobile market, but today owns only a couple of percent of total smartphone sales -- that's great news; it will take what it can get.

Source: CNET



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Zzzz
By zlandar on 9/6/2012 12:56:34 PM , Rating: -1
I'll stop yawning when it gets above 10% of the smartphone market.

The only thing that would make me consider a Windows smartphone is if could access Windows Media Center and playback my recordings or view live TV through my HD Prime.

Of course it doesn't do that. The "integration" of WIndows 8 desktop and mobile goes as deep as the UI.




RE: Zzzz
By Motoman on 9/6/2012 1:28:37 PM , Rating: 2
...and the rest of us *might* stop yawing about Macs if they ever get to 10% of the market.


RE: Zzzz
By zlandar on 9/6/2012 2:56:49 PM , Rating: 2
I don't have a Mac.

I don't want a Mac.

I don't want a Windows smartphone either.


RE: Zzzz
By Gungel on 9/6/2012 4:41:15 PM , Rating: 2
There is an app for that:
Get the Ceton Companion app for WP8.


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