Microsoft is teaming up AT&T as the exclusive carrier along with Samsung, LG and HTC to launch its Windows Mobile Phone 7 platform on October 11th. The devices actually will go on sale starting November 8, four weeks later as reported today by the Wall Street Journal .
The launch event will take place in New York and other not yet disclosed main locations across US. Windows Phone 7 will be Microsoft fresh start to take back share in mobile arena after falling behind to competitors.
The new mobile OS features a Zune-like UI called Metro with continuous update of pertinent information on its home screen. Integration with enterprise features are the given, but the integration with Xbox live would be an important differentiator. The OS is said to be limited in functions (multi-task, copy & paste, custom UI. etc.) at launch to maximize customer experience.
So far the OS has been going through critical analyst reviews with flying colors but its future success will depend heavily on many other factors residing outside the hardware and the OS. The criteria’s such carrier adoption, mobile app developers, media store, mindshare, corporate adoption.. could go beyond the already humongous Microsoft marketing budget.
Microsoft is using a model similar to Android to license its software to many phone makers, but unlike Google giving out free license, Microsoft charges a fee to the manufacturer, the fee would put pressure on already slim profit margin of this class of device. However, in exchange, the hardware phone makers will be shielded by Microsoft for any potential patent infringement lawsuits by other companies.
AT&T seems to be ready for the rumored lost of exclusivity of the ever popular iPhone by partnering with Microsoft for exclusivity at launch. In the other hand, Verizon has been in close tie with both Google Android and RIM. The company just went through a sour experience with the Microsoft KIN phones that were discontinued after just 2 short months on the market. Ultimately all carriers GSM and CDMA will carry Windows Phone devices as promised by Microsoft.
Microsoft is flexing its muscle in anticipation of this important launch with appointment of: Andy Lees, who has been SVP of Microsoft’s mobile communications business, will now be president of the mobile communications business; The software giant is gathering back the forgotten evangelist Mobile MVP’s (Most Valuable Professional); Developer classes have been delivered at many locations and aggressive courtship with prominent developers for popular apps such Twitter, NetFlix, Open Table, Seesmic, is underway.
Microsoft is another heavyweight player in a very crowded competitive landscape, the addition will push further innovation and competitiveness, let’s celebrate it!