Prepare for a Windows Phone Explosion on Verizon
September 6, 2012 12:18 PM
Windows phone slowly accelerates amid Android difficulties
The stars are slowly aligning in the favor of Microsoft Corp.'s (
) mobile operating system, Windows Phone.
I. Verizon Looks to Windows Phone for Fresh Blood
months of rumors
, Verizon Wireless -- a joint subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. (
) and Vodafone Group Plc. (
) 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 --
(nearly identical to the HD7) by HTC Corp. (
). 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. (
aluminum-unibody ATIV S
and Nokia Oyj.'s (
colorful Lumia 820/920s
with PureView lenses. Samsung is
to be preparing
a more budget-minded
4-inch Windows Phone handset for the market. HTC is
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,
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
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 (
) precursor Bell Telegraph and Telephone initially
used patents in the 1800s
to build its phone and telegraph line monopoly.
Today Apple, Inc. (
) is scoring massive fines and
U.S. bans on various HTC
Samsung Android devices
. In addition, HTC is already paying Microsoft
nearly $10 per Android handset
is paying $15 per handset
, so Windows Phone's relatively steep $30 USD per device [
] 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.
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
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 (
) 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
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.
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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