Microsoft Corp’s last-ditch attempt to reclaim its prominence in the smartphone market with the Windows Phone 7 operating software won favourable early reviews on Monday. But will it be enough to claw back customers from Apple and Google?
The world’s largest software company, along with network carriers and handset makers, is planning to spend more than $100 million on marketing the phones. Analysts said it could compete with Apple’s iPhone, but that may till be a struggle.
“Microsoft is fighting for third place, not first or even second, but we believe this is a key step,” Wells Fargo analyst Jason Maynard said in a research note.
“They have phones with slide-out keyboards, larger screens, high definition outlets — all features that the iPhone does not have,” said Ross Rubin, a consumer electronics analyst at retail research firm NPD Group. “That should help Microsoft's competitive position.”
The line-up of nine new phones from Samsung, LG, HTC and Dell will start to appear in stores later this month in Europe, and in November in the US on AT&T’s network.
“I've been looking forward to this day for some time,” said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, at a launch event in New York on Monday.
The new phones are built on the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Users will be able to play Xbox Live games on the phones, link to Windows Office, use the Bing search engine and download and play music. Facebook updates will be incorporated into a user’s contacts.
Game maker Electronic Arts said it will introduce a wave of games for the new phone software this holiday season.
Microsoft has a market share of only 5 per cent in the global smartphone market, according to research firm Gartner, compared with 9 per cent a year ago. Google’s Android system has a 17 per cent — from a mere 2 per cent just a year ago.