Tag Archives: Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 900: My Hands-On from CES 2012

Nokia Lumia 900

I was at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas for the past few days and I got a chance to put my hands on the gorgeous new Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone. It was announced at the Nokia CES press conference by Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop.

The Lumia 900 is a sleek device with a ClearBlack 4.3-inch display. The 4.3-inch display may sound huge, but it really does not feel that big in the hands. I use a Samsung Focus which is a 4-inch device and the Lumia 900 is only a tad bigger. However, if you are an iPhone user, you will definitely feel that bigness. Having used a 4-inch screen for the past 14 months, I don’t think that I can go back to the 3.5-inch screen of the iPhone.

The device build is very similar to the sleek Lumia 800 but unlike the 800, which has a slightly curved (bubble) glass, the 900’s screen is flat. The reason being, for the size of the screen, the curvature would end up being too much. As a result of going with a flat screen, you can clearly see a ridge around the edges. Whether that is actually an issue or not, we will have to wait and see after we use it normally for a few days.

The Nokia Lumia 900 comes as an exclusive to AT&T and has 4G LTE support. One of the other features touted over and over again by Nokia and Microsoft executives in various interviews and presentations at CES is the fact that it comes with an 1800mAh battery. In talking with the Nokia folks who have been using this phone for a few weeks, it seemed like they were able to get through an entire day of “heavy” use and a couple of days of “normal” use. I can’t get my Focus to go an entire day of “heavy” use, so here’s hoping this is a significant upgrade over the other Windows Phones.

The Lumia 900 has a f2.4 front-facing camera which Nokia says allows as much light as many rear-facing cameras on other phones. Unfortunately, the Nokia booth representatives were told not to show much of the camera or the software since the phone has not been officially released yet. The representatives confirmed that the ESPN and CNN apps will be pre-loaded on the AT&T Lumia 900 phones and we know that Nokia is going to get exclusive games from EA (which was later revealed to be a 6-month exclusive for Nokia, see this interview of Chris Weber with The Verge where he mentions it).

This phone is clearly the flagship Windows Phone, at least in the US where it is going to be available. Among other things, Elop mentioned that they are going to “aggressively” price the phone, not just as a flagship phone but also for first-time smartphone buyers. It was an interesting quote and I look forward to seeing how it is priced, since I will not only be buying it, but doing do off-contract!

Nokia Lumia 900 Image Gallery

Nokia Lumia 900 at CES

Microsoft’s Ben Rudolph with Yet Another Cool Campaign (#smokedbywindowsphone): Smokes Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 4S, Others

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At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Microsoft’s Ben Rudolph (@BenThePCGuy on twitter), the creator of several cool campaigns in the past like #DroidRage, outdid himself. This time, he first teased, and then announced a challenge where he would pay $100 to anyone whose phone could beat his Windows Phone (an HTC Titan) at common tasks. These tasks included identifying songs and downloading them from stores, updating social networks, finding a restaurant nearby with certain criteria and getting directions to it, etc.

The challenges were in fact suggested by the challengers, and mutually agreed upon. This laid rest to the speculation that the tests were rigged to help Windows Phone win (for example, uploading to Facebook which is native on Windows Phone but not anywhere else). Believe me, I was there, and I heard that allegation a lot.

The challenges were in fact suggested by the challengers, and mutually agreed upon!

Here’s Ben introducing the challenge:

 

So, how did it go? As of this morning, Ben tweeted that he had 30 wins, 3 losses and a draw. I say that is pretty fantastic considering that the challengers who lost included some of the latest and the greatest phones from competitors like the Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 4S, Galaxy S II, iPhone 4, etc. Heck, there was even a Palm Pre Plus!

 


One of Microsoft’s problems with Windows Phone has been awareness in the general market. Folks who use other smartphones have got used to those systems, and the best way to get the Windows Phone advantages across to them is for them to actually experience it. There is only so much someone can do if you walk them through the system (trust me, I have done that a lot, and it is good, but not ideal). That’s why this campaign is even more fantastic. It takes something that a person likes to do on the phone, and shows how they could do it faster on Windows Phone. 30 out of 34 challengers realized that at CES, and because they “lost” the challenge, it was a great opportunity for Ben to educate them on that specific feature and why Windows Phone is faster at it.

Some of the videos of Windows Phone “smoking” other phones out:

 

More videos are on this YouTube playlist. Check them out!

Microsoft Offering $100 If Your Phone Can Beat Windows Phone

Microsoft has been really aggressive in marketing Windows Phone to customers. It has not only been pushing its device partners to increase their marketing spend for their Windows Phone powered smartphones, but has actively challenged other platforms and doled out free Windows Phones on Twitter.

Recently, it was giving away free Windows Phones to anyone who was pissed at Android and tweeted about it using the hashtag #droidrage.

At CES 2012, it not only unveiled new flagship smartphones like the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC Titan II, but is also challenging attendees with cash prizes in order to promote Windows Phone.

@BenThePCGuy from the Windows Phone blog is challenging CES attendees to beat his Windows Phone device in everyday tasks using their phone running on any other platform. If you win, you get $100. You may also win free Windows Phones by participating in the contest, but the rules aren’t completely clear yet.

So if you’re strolling around CES, and think that your phone can beat Windows Phone, here’s your chance to make a quick 100 bucks.

More details at the Windows Phone Blog: I’ve got $100 that says your smartphone will get #smokedbywindowsphone

Check out our complete CES 2012 coverage: Techie-Buzz @ CES 2012

Windows Phone Executive: It’s “Business as Usual” with Windows Phone Updates

Windows Phone Blurry

In a blog post yesterday, Microsoft indicated that going forward there were two changes coming to Windows Phone updates: That they would put out an update which carriers could request, and that the weekly updates they used to post about the extent of deployment of the phone updates, were ending.

Needless to say, Windows Phone users and enthusiasts (including yours truly) did not like it. There was an uproar on twitter, as well as in the comments on the blog post, about how this was a regression. It was generally thought that Microsoft has in fact got push back from the carriers and OEMs who did not like being publicly held responsible for delayed updates to their customers.

However, Mary-Jo Foley says in a blog post today at ZDNet, that per Microsoft, it is business as usual. Greg Sullivan, Senior Product Manager with Windows Phone clarified in a phone call with Foley that nothing has changed as far as relationships with carriers is concerned. He said that carriers always had the choice of requesting an update to push to their customers’ phones. He also clarified that with the number of phones as well as carriers increasing, maintaining the detailed list of where the updates are per country, per carrier, per phone, would become unwieldy. As a result, they decided not to publish the granular updates anymore.

Personally, I understand both these points. In fact, as far as updates are concerned, we knew around the time of the initial launch that carriers had the right to skip one (and only one) update, and since all Windows Phone updates were cumulative, customers would get the older updates in the next cycle. Given that Windows Phone is going to expand in terms of markets served, carriers supporting it and OEMs building devices for it, I also completely understand that maintaining the list on a weekly basis would in fact be an extremely painful exercise.

The issue clearly then, is communication. Why were these two points not included in the original blog post? It would have helped put some color to the decision they made, rather than create unnecessary angst among the public and lead to irresponsible speculation about the actual cause of the change.

While I do understand these points, I am still absolutely not ok with the lack of understanding where my update is, and how responsible my carrier is about getting me the latest fixes. Given that the carriers have absolutely no interest in putting more time and effort in servicing customers within contract, I am going to assume they are guilty until they prove themselves innocent.

AT&T, are you listening? Man up, and send the updates out to us. Yes, that includes the earliest adopters on 1st generation phones like Samsung Focus.

Windows Phone Updates Are Now Completely Opaque

Windows Phone Opaque

Windows Phone behind a frosted glass

After the “NoDo” update mess, the Windows Phone engineering team took a major u-turn and did several things right. They became more transparent by having a blog and a site dedicated to providing the latest status of a certain update by carrier, by phone model, by country/geography. Secondly, they got together with the OEMs and the carriers to do a coordinated deployment of the first major update, Windows Phone 7.5 (codename Mango).

So, why do I say they have become opaque? This afternoon, over at the Windows Blog, Eric Hautala, General Manager of Customer Experience Engineering announced that going forward they are going to discontinue the constant, weekly updates they were putting out on the blog. Instead, they will provide news of updates on the main Windows Phone blog. Also, that this update (and presumably others, going forward) is going to be up to the carriers to request from Microsoft and provide to end users.

The update, available to all carriers that request it, is part of our ongoing maintenance of Windows Phone

What? The carriers have to request the update? Why would they? If they request the update, they’d have to run a long test cycle to validate the update. Then they’d have to roll it out to their users. It takes a lot of engineering effort on the part of the carriers to undertake these tests. Why would they, unless it is a huge issue like a major security vulnerability or if phones are becoming useless (“bricked”)? Absolutely no reason.

Microsoft has to push the carriers (and OEMs) to push the updates to the phones that are impacted. Sometimes not all phones on all carriers are impacted, but instead of relying on the carriers to request the update, Microsoft should be the one pushing the carriers to force the updates to the users. Unfortunately, unlike Apple, which treats you and I as their customers, Microsoft treats the carriers as their customers. That is not to say that the end customer is irrelevant to Microsoft, but clearly, the customers that pay Microsoft are the carriers and the OEMs.

I have mocked Android before, for being extremely slow in updating phones, but in that case at least, Google has admittedly washed their hands off the entire process by making Android free to use. Their argument could very well be that they have no control over the OEMs and therefore, it is futile to push the carriers who may have to do even longer testing because of the large variety of Android phones that are available. In Microsoft’s case though, all OEMs are known because it is a not a free license. The updates could be coordinated, as we saw in the case of “Mango”, among the various OEMs and carriers. That they have made a conscious decision not to mandate the carriers, shows that behind the scenes, something has changed politically which has led to this decision.

I am disappointed at these moves: first, the move to let the carriers request the update, but second and more importantly, the lack of the detailed communication regarding various updates, going forward. So, going forward, it will not only be unclear if you will receive the update, but also, you won’t know how far along your specific carrier is with the update deployment.

I can only imagine that the transparency did not go down well with Microsoft’s partners since it clearly exposed the OEMs (Samsung in particular) and carriers (Telefonica is an example) which were holding up the updates. However, the end user is the one who gets the short end of the stick here – not because they don’t receive the update, most normal customers don’t even care – mostly because their phone experience suffers. In the most recent update, there is an annoying, oft-occurring bug which has been fixed (“disappearing keyboard”). If AT&T does not pick it up and push the update out in the next few weeks, this Windows Phone user will definitely start watching the next iPhone rumors more closely.

Nokia Buys Smarterphone to Make its Dumbphones Smarter

Nokia may have bet its future on Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform when it comes to smartphones, but it is still working on its feature phone offerings, which make it the top mobile phone manufacturer worldwide.

Apparently, Nokia purchased a Norwegian company, Smarterphone, which has created an operating system that brings smartphone features and user experiences to budget feature phones with slow processors and smaller displays. Smarterphone has been selling its technology to many OEMs and ODMs which use its platform to power their devices.

The acquisition was revealed when Ferd Capital, an investor in Smarterphone, revealed it in a press release. It had invested around 6.5 million euros in Smarterphone. The purchase price wasn’t revealed.

Nokia, which traditionally had the greatest market share in feature phones, has seen itself slide in recent times, even in its strongest territories. Samsung recently overtook Nokia as the smartphone market leader in India, and is slowly clawing away at its feature phone market share too. It is also under attack by Chinese manufacturers which are targeting the low-end feature phone market.

With Smarterphone, Nokia is planning to make its feature phones slightly more appealing, and even win back some of its lost market share. Even though feature phones may not be as lucrative as smartphones in terms of profit margins, they offer a huge revenue opportunity, especially in emerging economies like India, China and Africa. After all, everyone can’t be Apple.

HTC Sees Profit Drop as Samsung Eats its Android Lunch

Samsung wasn’t the only smartphone maker which revealed its quarterly earnings today. HTC also posted its Q4 2011 results, but unlike Samsung which had a record quarter, it actually reported a drop in its operating profit, for the first time in the last two years. Its net income in Q4 dropped 26% to $364 million, below analyst estimates. Its revenues were down 2.5% to around $3.35 billion.

Apparently, its unit sales dipped more than expected, due to the increasing competition in the smartphone space. Its smartphone shipments in Q4 were down to only 10 million units, and are expected to slip further to 8.5 million units in Q1 2012.

“Severe competition at the high end from Apple and Samsung forced their sales lower during the quarter. The key is when they can find their competitive edge, which may not happen until the second quarter at the earliest,” said a Nomura analyst.

HTC is slated to launch some new devices at CES 2012, which will start next week. If any of those devices turn out to be a hit, they could boost HTC’s sales in Q2 2012. However, given the very competitive nature of the smartphone market, that seems increasingly unlikely. While Apple has its own platform, Samsung has become the preferred manufacturer for the Android platform, and Nokia has become the flagship manufacturer for Windows Phone. HTC runs a real risk of becoming irrelevant fast, if it doesn’t move soon.

Nokia Lumia 900 Specifications Leak

Nokia is expected to demo the Lumia 900 at CES 2012, which will begin next week. However, information about the hardware specs of Nokia’s next Windows Phone powered flagship has already leaked out.

Nokia-Lumia-900

The Lumia 900 will sport a 4.3-inch WVGA capacitive touch-screen and run Windows 7.5 Mango. Appearance wise, Lumia 900 will stay true to its predecessor’s stunning slim looks. It should be no more than 12 mm thick and weigh about 160 grams. The device which has been codenamed Eloko will have 512MB of RAM, 8 megapixel camera, and a generous 1830mAh battery. The specs are pretty much in line with what was expected, but in someways a shade below what most Android handsets offer.

The LTE compatible Lumia 900 will launch on the AT&T network as Nokia Ace. Rumored launch date is March 18, but we wouldn’t bet on that. With Lumia 900, Nokia is simply improving upon the good work done with the N9 and the Lumia 800. Will that be enough to challenge the onslaught of new Android handsets that are expected to be annoucned at CES and MWC is something that we will have to wait to find out.

My 2012 Wish List for Windows Phone

Windows Phone

I have been using Windows Phone virtually from launch day, and have been patient with the team about so many things that have been missing from the OS. Windows Phone 7.5, aka Mango, addressed a lot of my complaints, but now I have another, deeper set of functionality (and wishes!) I’d like to see implemented.

The following is my wish list for Windows Phone for the year 2012. Given that one of the wishes is for more frequent updates, I am hoping some of the functionality gaps are filled sooner than later.

Ecosystem

  1. Market share: First and foremost, I’d like to see Windows Phone get to a decent market share. The stars have aligned nicely with RIM dying a slow death, and webOS being killed by HP for Windows Phone to be easily positioned as the #3 platform. However, it would be a pity if the 3rd-biggest  platform is at 5% with iOS and Android making up 95% of the market. It would be better if Windows Phone could get to 10-15% or above to really make it relevant. Education at carrier stores, more incentives for carrier salespeople, Nokia’s Rolling Thunder campaign, expansion to new markets, etc. should help.
  2. More Silicon Valley startup involvement: Most startups are not going to devote time to building Windows Phone apps with its market share around 1.5%. It simply does not make financial sense. I would like to see the Microsoft developer relations/evangelism folks to embed themselves in such startups and help them build the next cool appfor Windows Phone in addition to iOS/Android. For that, this evangelist team will have to work closely in Silicon Valley (and perhaps New York) to identify the companies which are doing great things in the mobile space and help them as early as possible in their lifecycle.
  3. Get existing marquee apps at par with iOS/Android counterparts: Microsoft would like us to believe that 90% of the top iOS/Android apps are available for Windows Phone. That may be arguable, but even existing apps like Facebook and Twitter have not seen updates to bring features at par with iOS/Android versions. For example, Facebook app does not support updating Groups or Twitter app (still) does not provide notifications. Also, given that some of these apps have been built by Microsoft, or even worse, by a third party, it is hard to understand who is to blame for the lack of functionality updates.
  4. Abandon the annual minor and major update cycle: Windows Phone has settled into a cycle where they have minor releases once a year and major updates once a year, each separated by about 6 months. While this is great for larger, non-mobile programs, it is absolutely slow in the mobile industry, especially for bug fixes and security updates. Until Windows Phone is  at  par with iOS and Android in terms of overall functionality, I don’t think they should settle down into a 6-month update cycle. Till then, the updates should be rapid, incremental and extremely frequent.

Windows Phone Marketplace Passes 50,000 Apps

According to a new report by AllAboutWindowsPhone, the very underrated Windows Phone platform has hit a new milestone – the Windows Phone Marketplace has now processed more than 50,000 app submissions. That’s much lower than the Apple iOS App Store, which has more than 500,000 apps and even Google’s Android which offers almost as many apps as iOS, but it’s a very important milestone which showcases the amount of developer interest in the Windows Phone platform despite it being very late to the market.

While Windows Phone reached this milestone in 14 months, Apple did it in 12 months, while Android took around 19 months.

In the last month, around 265 new apps have been added to the Windows Phone Marketplace every day. Going forward, we expect Windows Phone to add new apps at an increasing rate, as it becomes one of the top three smartphone platforms after Android and iOS.

Note: The total number of apps currently available in the Windows Phone Marketplace is less than 50,000. It’s slightly less than 48,000, according to statistics by WP7AppList. The discrepancy is because some apps have been removed by either Microsoft or by the publisher. However, Microsoft should offer more than 50,000 apps by the next two weeks, going by the current rate at which apps are being submitted to the Marketplace.

Windows Phone 50000 Apps

LG Fantasy Leaked; Runs Windows Phone 7.5

LG was one of the first device manufacturers to launch a Windows Phone at its launch almost a year ago. However, after the LG Quantum, it almost disappeared from the Windows Phone scene fueling speculation that it wasn’t going to make any more Windows Phones. Apparently, that isn’t true. A new Windows Phone by LG – the LG Fantasy – has made an appearance on the XDA Developers forum.

The guy posting at the forum has posted images of the LG Fantasy, and claims that he bought it from a tester in Romania.

The LG Fantasy comes with Windows Phone 7.5 Mango installed, and sports a 4 inch IPS display. Reportedly, it has an 8 MP camera, and comes with a 2nd generation 1 GHz processor. According to the HTC Bench benchmark run by the owner, it is faster than the HTC Radar. It also has 8 GB of internal storage, and a secondary 1.3 MP camera.

We don’t have any more details about the hardware of the LG Fantasy yet, but we will keep you updated once LG makes the official announcement. LG may debut the phone at CES 2012, so stay tuned.

LG Fantasy

Check out the original thread at XDA Developers.

Windows Phone Executive Shakeup: Andy Lees Out, Terry Myerson In

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Ina Fried at AllThingsD reported earlier today that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had removed Andy Lees as the President of Windows Phone division. Terry Myerson, who has led the engineering effort for Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, will take over Lees’ duties. Ballmer’s memo was later posted on Microsoft’s News Center.

This news comes as surprise to me. Microsoft just completed a successful rollout of the latest Windows Phone update, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. At the same time, Nokia just started selling their devices in Europe and Asia and are on the cusp of making their highly-anticipated return to the United States. In other words, it is a crucial time for Microsoft’s Windows Phone leadership to ensure the device sales pick up pace and that the boat is not rocked too much.

One way to look at this change is to think that Lees was relived of his duties because he was unable to get Windows Phone sales to a level that could make the platform count. Although, if that were the case, I’d argue that it would be cause for firing him than just moving him out of his leadership role. In this case though, Ballmer has revealed that he is moving Lees to a different position under him, for a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8. Interesting choice of words. I’ll get back to this point later.

Moving the operations of the division under an engineering person implies Microsoft is now shifting itself to be more engineering-led rather than business/marketing. Back in February 2011, Ballmer had reportedly planned to put more engineering-focused executives in a management shuffle. This move may be in fact be in line with that vision. I like that general realignment strategy because I believe Microsoft needs to get a bit more focused on delivering the vision than just painting the broad strokes.

Got #droidrage? Tweet to Get Your Android Replaced with a Windows Phone

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Stories of Android devices being infected with malware are not uncommon these days. We have seen a recent Juniper Networks report which stated that Android malware increased by 472%. Yet another report, this time by McAfee, says nearly all malware in Q3 was targeted at Android.

Given that the operating system and the marketplace are open and without any gate-keepers, it is not surprising at all. What is a benefit to developers (no obstacles to their creativity), comes with a huge price because it is also extremely open for abuse by the bad guys. Now that Android has a huge installed base, it is an easy target for malware infestation.

Today, it was reported that Google has removed 22 apps from the Android market in the past several days because they were bundled with malware. San Francisco security firm Lookout Software claimed that the malware in these apps is called RuFraud, and it essentially send dummy SMS messages to create financial benefit  for the malware makers.

Not to waste the opportunity, Microsoft’s Windows Phone evangelist Ben Rudolph immediately jumped on twitter and created an instant promotion. The tweets read as follows:

 

 

Windows Phone (especially after Windows Phone 7.5 Mango released) has been universally praised for its elegance, simplicity and beauty. The problem for Microsoft is that iOS first, and Android now, have created a certain impression of a smartphone in the minds of consumers. While Android in some ways is a clone of iOS with grids and pages of app icons, Windows Phone is very unique in its approach of Live Tiles and Hubs. It has proven difficult for Microsoft to get this message across easily, and as a result the sales have been dismal.

Promotions like this help in not only getting these devices in the hands of folks using competing platforms, but also creating a buzz around the promotion itself. Note that Ben had earlier run a similar promotion for users of Blackberry affected by a long downtime of Blackberry services. At the time, he had said he received over 1,500 responses!

 

 

This is a very good and opportunistic move by Ben. It assures him the attention of disgruntled users who will be more open to switching, and in return they get a free phone too! That makes it an absolute win-win situation!

Microsoft India Indulges in a Bollywood Chase

Yes, Techie-Buzz is still a technology blog. We still couldn’t help having Shahrukh Khan feature twice here in the last couple of months. In October, I wrote about Shahrukh Khan’s aggressive digital marketing for his film RA.One. Now, for his upcoming release, Don 2, Microsoft India in partnership with Excel Entertainment, the producers of the film, has launched a unique contest which gives winners a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet SRK and travel to Berlin.

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To enter the Meet the Don2: Mission Berlin contest, you need to buy one of the Microsoft products Windows 7 PC, Windows Phone, Microsoft Office 2010, or Xbox 360 from a retail store in the contest period and then answer five simple questions and write a catchy slogan at www.MissionBerlin.in. The contest runs from November 25th to December 20th, 2011. If your entry is shortlisted, you will be asked to send a copy of the invoice as a proof of purchase.

The first 1000 correct and complete entries will win 4 tickets to the first day first show of Don 2 to watch it with family and friends. Top five winning families with best slogan will get a chance to meet Shahrukh Khan in person. And one of the luckiest family amongst these will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the beautiful, historic city of Berlin. Don 2 is shot in Berlin and the sightseeing arrangements include trips to shooting spots!

Well, Microsoft India just made the futile chase to Don possible!

Verizon Wireless, Windows Phone, LTE and Microsoft’s Mobile Strategy Problem

verizon_4g_lte

Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer, Marni Walden,  while speaking to CNET, said that Windows Phone needs to support LTE in order to compete. She said that they have communicated to Microsoft that LTE is critical for Verizon Wireless and that they need to see a timeline, if Microsoft expects them to continue to represent Windows Phone.

Ouch! This is the first time Verizon Wireless has come out and pointed at a specific problem they have in carrying more Windows Phone devices. Currently, the only Windows Phone they carry is the HTC Trophy, which is a first generation device, released a few months after the OS supported CDMA. There have been no announcements about a Mango device coming to Verizon Wireless.

The stakes are high for Microsoft (and related, for Nokia especially, in its return to the US market). Verizon Wireless is the largest mobile network in the US at 107.7 million subscribers. At the same time, due to AT&T’s initial exclusivity on the iPhone in the US, Verizon ended up becoming an Android champion. They started a huge marketing campaign around their trademark Droidand became a close partner of Google. Meanwhile, iPhone is now also available on Verizon network and as a result they now have arguably the best portfolio of smartphones in the US. Windows Phone clearly has an uphill battle to get the carrier’s attention. Getting cut out of Verizon Wireless will take half the addressable US market away from Microsoft.

In a lot of ways, what Verizon Wireless is asking makes sense. On one hand, they carry the juggernaut that is the iPhone, and on the other hand, they have a slew of Android devices which come in various form factors, with a variety of hardware differentiators and at all kinds of price points. Their marketing message for some time and definitely for the holiday season is their network which is the only one with real4G (LTE). For the typical (high-end) smartphone price of $200 with a 2-year contract, they cannot offer a 3G Windows Phone when most Android devices are 4G-enabled. Also of course, 4G data plans do offer additional revenue to Verizon Wireless.

Like it or not, Microsoft is going to have to compete with Android from a sales and marketing strategy perspective, rather than the iPhone. There is no single Windows Phonelike the iPhone or even the Nexus line of Android phones. Windows Phone is a licensed OS and as a result, there are going to be multiple OEMs making similar phones and multiple carriers carrying them. In order to differentiate, and in this case in order to even participate, Microsoft and its partners will be forced to play the speeds-and-feeds game and keep bumping up the phone features. This is somewhat the opposite of how Microsoft has set up Windows Phone with its strict chassis specification and also how they have set their update schedule to be one big update a year interspersed with smaller updates in between.

Instead of having customers focus on the elegance of the OS and its ability to run well even on previous generation hardware, Microsoft is being forced by Verizon Wireless to play the Android game and keep focusing on specification numbers. Something will have to give because Microsoft simply cannot afford to get left out of the Verizon Wireless footprint. Perhaps more chassis specifications? More aggressive updates to the OS? Maybe we will see a more aggressive schedule after the first round of Nokia devices come into the market and the platform gains a reasonable installed base? Any/all of this better happen because Verizon Wireless customers deserve the choice of Windows Phone Smile