On Wednesday Nokia will show off its upcoming Windows Phone 8-based handset, a device on which the company’s future heavily depends.
As this Reuters story carried by SiliconValley.com notes, the possibility of Microsoft Corp. of having anything relevant in the exploding market for smart phones is also at stake. As Apple Inc.’s iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android continue to be the dominant choices of buyers, Microsoft has been consigned to observer status. Its dominance of the desktop PC market hasn’t translated to smart phones, largely because its mobile OS platform has been undistinguished.
That changed with the introduction of Windows Phone 7 and is expected to be extended with the improved Windows Phone 8, to be launched next month. For its part, struggling Nokia turned its back on creating a new smartphone OS and bet heavily on WinPhone 7. Sale of its Lumia 700 and 800 models (below) show the bet was worthwhile. But will that be enough to blunt the iPhone/Android avalanche? Especially if the iPhone 5, as expected, comes out next week.
Perhaps if more major handset makers join the WinPhone 8 parade. Samsung showed off a model last week at a Berlin consumer electronics show. From Microsoft’s standpoint, however, it must be wondering if Samsung will put pricing and marketing muscle behnd the Ativ brand that will use Windows operating systems — after all, for the past two years the bulk of Samsung’s efforts have gone into promoting Android-based handsets. HTC and Huawei will also make WinPhone 8 handsets. They aren’t known for high-end devices so could be expected to market price-sensitive units that will appeal to buyers.
One analyst in the Reuters report suggests Microsoft has until the end of 2013 to make an impact in worldwide smart phone sales.
As for Research In Motion, its next-generation handsets using the BlackBerry 10 operating system aren’t expected until February — why launch a phone in January, after people have spent their holiday money? — giving iPhone 5 and WinPhone 8 at least a five month head start.