Print 55 comment(s) - last by Mint.. on Sep 11 at 12:58 PM

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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RE: I'm glad
By NullSubroutine on 9/6/2012 1:43:11 PM , Rating: 1
I'm personally not a fan of it. But its style and interface makes more sense on a small screen than it does a desktop PC screen.

RE: I'm glad
By kleinma on 9/6/2012 2:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it works just fine on a desktop PC screen.

I run dual LCDs at home, 27" and 22", and I have been using Win8 RTM since it was available, and tested the 3 betas before that. It did take me a little time to adjust, mostly to the fact that I have a bad habit of closing windows by double clicking their top left corner (not the top right corner X), just a habit I have had way too long, and one that doesn't play well on a maximized window in Win8 desktop. However that is really my own deal, since double clicking one corner is really more work than single clicking the proper corner. SO it is little stuff like that, but after you get used to the few changes, and after you play with the start screen, it really does mesh well, even with the desktop. Also on dual monitor setups, the desktop is always visible on 1 of them. The start screen itself is a 1 LCD pony.

On the desktop side of things, there are enough improvements to make the switch worth it. Drive spaces, the new unified file copying with pause, ribbon UI in explorer, etc...

RE: I'm glad
By NullSubroutine on 9/6/2012 5:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure why I was rating down. All I was saying was while most people don't have a problem with on phones or tablets (response to previous person saying he did like it), but others do find fault with it on the PC desktop.

Its like being down rated for saying today its raining.

Good for you for liking it, as I said, I personally don't find the functionality or visual style something I would spend money on, but to each their own.

RE: I'm glad
By Mint on 9/11/2012 12:43:57 PM , Rating: 2
People have been saying that, but it's mostly unjustified.

Why is the Win8 UI any less suited for a desktop than Win7? It's basically a giant start menu that does a lot more. Live tiles may give you the info you want without even launching the program. Keyboard searches show more results than with Win7. Commonly accessed apps can be given larger tiles for easy clicking. The bridge MS is forming between desktop and mobile can only lead to good things. Finally, it's just plain pretty.

I just don't get what the big disadvantage is.

RE: I'm glad
By althaz on 9/6/2012 9:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
I have gone from Win 8 on desktop hater to lover and most of the people I know who have tried the RTM versions have done the same, but like you, we all have dual monitors. I think on a single screen it might not be as good (except on tablets, where it's awesome).

The other thing is it might not be as good on laptops where you don't have a real mouse, because otherwise I can't understand any of the hate (unless people are talking about the previews, which all sucked, really hard).

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