Microsoft plans to release Windows Phone 7, its revamped smartphone operating system, at the end of 2010. However, that will bring it into direct confrontation with iPhone OS 4, which boasts new features such as multitasking, as well as Google Android 2.2 and possibly 2.3. Whether Microsoft can succeed against such heavy competition is dependent on a number of factors; but Windows Phone 7 will also enter the fray with key disadvantages, such as initial lack of support for Flash. Sales of Microsoft's Kin phones could be an indicator of the company's mobile consumer appeal.
Microsoft plans on releasing Windows Phone 7, touted as a complete revamp of
its smartphone operating system, sometime near the end of 2010. Its
introduction is an attempt to reverse several quarters of market-share slide in
the face of fierce competition from Apple's iPhone and Google Android phones,
and its user interface-concentrated around "hubs" that aggregate
mobile application and Web content under subject categories such as People and
Games-is designed to be a key differentiator from rival offerings.
But a spate of recent announcements and rumors from both the Apple and
Google camps has the potential to alter the game considerably.
Rumors have been circulating for days about Apple's plans for the next-generation
iPhone, with Digitimes reporting May 17 that as many as 24 million of the
devices could ship in 2010. That number comes courtesy of the publication's
analysts, citing unnamed sources at Taiwan's
"Foxconn will ship 4.5 million units in the first half and 19.5 million
units for the rest of 2010," the Digitimes report said. "Apple is
expected to unveil the iPhone 4G on June 7, 2010, during Apple's Worldwide Developers
Whether those numbers prove accurate, Apple has typically expected its
newest devices to sell well upon their release. Although the company has not
officially announced new mobile hardware, leaked
prototypes of the device,
which the media has dubbed "iPhone 4G,"
lend credence to the idea that Apple will follow its pattern of previous years
and release a smartphone during the summer.
In addition to a possible new iPhone, Apple plans to introduce the iPhone OS
4, with features such as iAd, a platform for displaying advertisements in
mobile applications, and multitasking, which previous versions of the operating
system have lacked.
Meanwhile, phone manufacturer HTC
informed the blogosphere that most smartphones launched in 2010 will receive an
upgrade to Android 2.2, code-named Froyo, in the second half of the year. HTC
phones running Android include the Nexus One, Droid Eris and Droid Incredible.
"As we get closer to readiness, we'll reveal a full list, but for now
have started with the most popular models like Desire and Droid Incredible as
well as some of the hotly anticipated new phones," HTC
told the Pocket Lint blog.
In addition to increased speed, Android 2.2 includes enterprise-relevant
features such as remote wipe, password options and the ability to easily set up
(and sync) a Microsoft Exchange account. For those more inclined to use their
smartphones as multimedia devices, Android 2.2 will support Flash Player 10.1,
Adobe Systems' platform for displaying rich Web content such as animations and
But even as Android 2.2 emerges from the development labs, rumors abound
that Android 2.3, "Gingerbread," is in the works, and could be
released by the fourth quarter of 2010. In all, Android underlies about 60
smartphones today, a number expected to increase by the end of the year.