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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.

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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By corduroygt on 9/6/2012 1:22:42 PM , Rating: -1
Why would you buy a 800x480 phone in 2013 next to that HD android phone? Even the iPhone is getting 1136x640.

By tayb on 9/6/2012 1:33:25 PM , Rating: 5
First off, in day to use the difference between 800x480 and any higher resolution is completely worthless. It's just fodder for fanboys to pound their chests about. In all actuality a lower resolution screen should have better battery life and performance.

Second, the Nokia 920 has a 768x1280 screen. The Nokia 820 has a 800x480 screen but that is the low end model that will either be free or $99 with a contract. I don't know the resolution of the new Samsung WP but the specs list a 4.8" HD Super AMOLED display.

By tayb on 9/6/2012 1:53:52 PM , Rating: 3
Increasing the resolution thereby making the text smaller makes the text more readable? Seems backward. I have a Droid X with a resolution of 480x854 and the only time the resolution would be a problem is if I were viewing a non-mobile website and refused to zoom in. In this scenario increasing the resolution would make the text crisper but it would not make it larger. You will zoom in anyway so how does the resolution help?

The announcement from Verizon didn't preclude the 920 or other devices from other manufacturers. What you're referring to is a leaked document detailing plans to sell the 820. How do you know another document doesn't exist detailing plans to sell the 920?

By tayb on 9/6/2012 2:18:21 PM , Rating: 3
You just answered your own question. It's nice to be able to read without performing the extra gestures of zooming in, then scrolling all over. Plus, images look much better with higher resolution.

Except you can't read it zoomed out because the text is too small... because of the super high resolution. So, you'll zoom in because the text is too small or you'll zoom in because the text isn't sharp enough. Either way, you're zooming in. It's not a gesture, it's a double tap.

I'm go with certain and known quantities, otherwise how do you know there isn't a document detailing the plans to sell the next generation holographic smartphone from Apple/Samsung?

A leaked document isn't a known quantity. The only known quantity is that Verizon made a statement that it is going to make a bigger Windows Phone push. That's it.

By 91TTZ on 9/7/2012 10:21:52 AM , Rating: 1
Except you can't read it zoomed out because the text is too small... because of the super high resolution. So, you'll zoom in because the text is too small or you'll zoom in because the text isn't sharp enough. Either way, you're zooming in. It's not a gesture, it's a double tap.

I'm able to read the small text on the iPhone 4S just fine. I don't need to zoom in.

By BifurcatedBoat on 9/7/2012 5:56:10 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't make the text smaller since the actual physical size of text on most mobile browsers is based on whatever zoom you choose.

We're mostly past the days of resolution-dependent fonts on the desktop, and I'm not sure that's ever been an issue on mobile devices.

By B3an on 9/6/2012 6:14:36 PM , Rating: 3
Are you actually trying to embarrass yourself?

The 820 is a lower-end cheaper phone and you're comparing it to high-end phones??

Compared to what it will be competing with in the same league, it's much better than most alternatives.

By bupkus on 9/6/2012 1:48:49 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know the resolution of the new Samsung WP but the specs list a 4.8" HD Super AMOLED display
Now this is getting interesting.

By Mitch101 on 9/7/2012 2:26:22 PM , Rating: 3
Check out the low light ability of the Nokia compared to the Galaxy S3 and iPhone

Also HTC Zenith will come with a Quad core processor.

By FITCamaro on 9/6/2012 1:34:44 PM , Rating: 3
Technology elitism at its best.

By Pirks on 9/6/2012 8:34:47 PM , Rating: 1
Once again brain damaged Reclaimer troll failed to understand that WP8 phones have also models with the 1280x768 and 1280x720 resolutions like the ATIV S and the Lumia 920.

By Pirks on 9/7/2012 4:18:54 AM , Rating: 2
Talking to a piece of wood is more productive than talking to Reclaimer. You're just wasting your time.

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