Microsoft's 'Project Pink' Phones Seek Younger Audience
Microsoft invited journalists to an April 12 event in San Francisco, where it's expected to finally introduce its "Project Pink" phones. Geared toward young users, the Pink phones are shooting to be next-gen Sidekicks and won't run Windows Phone 7.Microsoft is expected to finally introduce the two smartphones in its project code-named "Pink" on Monday, April 12. The company sent invitations to select journalists for a San Francisco event, with the title "It's Time to Share."
The phones have been the stuff of rumors for months, with their reported names-Turtle and Pure-being leaked in September 2009, followed images in March. Both are expected to be slider phones with large touch screens and QWERTY keypads, with the Turtle said to be named for its boxier shape.
While Microsoft has designed the software, online services and hardware, the phones will be made by Sharp and available on the Verizon Wireless network later in April, according to the Wall Street Journal, which on April 6 quoted "people familiar with the matter."
Struggling to regain market share and reinvigorate its branding, particularly as increasing numbers of Android-based handsets join the market, Microsoft introduced a new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, earlier in the year, and analysts believe it may offer the phone maker new traction with consumers.
Windows Phone 7 is expected to be released in time for the 2010 holiday season; consequently, it's said the Project Pink phones won't run this latest software but a variation. The phones are being geared toward a young demographic, with Microsoft looking to mimic the success it saw with the Sidekick flip-screen phone after acquiring startup Danger in 2008. After the acquisition, it was Sharp that made the Sidekick for Microsoft.
According to the Journal, "The software on the new Pink phones resembles elements of the Windows Phone 7 software, but devices that run on the two technologies aren't expected to be able to run the same applications."
Microsoft desperately needs a homerun, and some Sidekick-level success could certainly work wonders on its slipping market share. The latest quarterly report from comScore showed Microsoft to be well behind leaders Research In Motion and Apple, and with a hustling Google at its heels.
In the three-month period ending in February 2010, Microsoft held 15.1 percent of the smartphone OS market share in the United States, which was down from 19.1 percent the quarter before, according to comScore.
By contrast, during the same period, fourth-place Google jumped its market share from 3.8 percent in November to 9 percent by February, while Palm, falling to fifth place, fell from 7.2 percent in November to 5.4 percent in February.