Microsoft's new Windows Phone hardware specs, which make cameras optional, hint at a more aggressive midmarket presence to come for the platform.
apparently loosened its minimum hardware requirements for Windows Phone,
potentially opening the way for manufacturers to create more midmarket devices
that use the mobile operating system.
uncovered by blogs such as WPCentral, Microsoft's listing for Windows
Phone's hardware specifications now includes "primary camera" and "front-facing
camera" under "optional hardware." The rest of the "standard hardware" remains
much the same, including three hardware buttons (start, search and back) and an
accelerometer. Those specifications were last updated September 23, 2011.
continues to loosen its grip on Windows Phone hardware, it could create the
opening that manufacturers need to produce lower-cost handsets. At the moment,
Windows Phone runs primarily on higher-end devices, although Microsoft has made
no secret of its desire to penetrate the midrange market increasingly dominated
by Google Android.
dramatically broadening the set of price points in Mango-related phones that we
can reach," Andy Lees, president of Microsoft's Windows Phone division, told
the audience during the Asia D conference Oct. 19. "That's particularly
important because going lower down in price point opens up more addressable
has already begun with Nokia's Lumia 710, which includes a 1.4GHz processor,
5-megapixel and the latest Windows Phone Mango update. Nokia is pairing that
device with the higher-end Lumia 800, which features the same processor but
also an 8-megapixel camera that uses Carl Zeiss optics and a 3.7-inch
active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) ClearBlack curved display integrated into a
body rendered from a single piece of polycarbonate.
certainly need the midmarket if it wants to fulfill certain analyst projections
of seizing second or third place in the smartphone market within the next few
years. Research firm IDC suggested earlier this year that Nokia will help drive
Windows Phone to second place behind Android by 2015, while Canaccord Genuity
analyst Michael Walkley believes that Windows Phone could eventually battle it
out with Android and iOS instead of lagging far behind in market share.
Microsoft pushes Windows Phone, it continues to profit handsomely from one of
the platform's fiercest competitors. On Oct. 23, the company announced it had
locked down yet another Android manufacturer into a patent-licensing agreement,
the ninth in four months and the tenth Android-related one overall. Microsoft
has insisted for some time that Android violates its patents, and wants to be
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.