Microsoft faces difficulties kick-starting its Windows Phone 7 franchise, according to an analyst, as it reportedly prepares a massive smartphone software update.
Microsoft could face some difficulties as it attempts to kick-start interest
in Windows Phone 7, according to a new analyst report. That comes along with
new rumors that the smartphone's next software update, reportedly due in the
next few weeks, will be massive in scope.
"Not all the stars are aligning for the Microsoft operating system the
way it did for [Google] Android," Ross Rubin, the NPD Group's executive
director for industry analysis, wrote
in a Nov. 30 posting on the research firm's corporate blog
whereas Verizon had a paucity of touch screen smartphones prior to the Droid,
AT&T and T-Mobile are flush with them." Both carriers also feature
competing devices with a proven track record-particularly the iPhone, which
remains exclusive to AT&T for the time being.
"On the other hand, the devices at those carriers offer clear
alternatives to the incumbents," Rubin wrote. "All of the Windows
phones at AT&T pack something the iPhone lacks, and the HD7's screen looms
large above others in T-Mobile's portfolio."
Microsoft's tight hold on its smartphones' software could also reap benefits
as the actual devices penetrate further into the market. "Due to Microsoft's
tighter control over updates," Rubin added, "each Windows phone sold
represents an opportunity to rapidly spread the updates [that the] Windows
Phone 7 needs to fill in its feature gaps."
Current rumors suggest that the first Windows Phone 7 update could be huge.
"I've been hearing the first #wp7 update is going to be massive,"
Chris Walsh, a Windows Phone 7 developer and co-creator of the ChevronWP7 unlocker app
Nov. 28. "They've been working on this update long before they actually
Walsh then tweeted in response to a question about the update's size: "Let's
just say, they could have called it Windows Phone 8." By then, the
blogosphere had seized upon his comments
and linked them with other
suggesting the update is due in January.
That time frame would dovetail neatly with recent comments by Microsoft
executives. "Critics have commented on the lack of specific features like
copy & paste and lack of 100s of thousands of new applications," Arpan
Shah, Microsoft's director for SharePoint, wrote
in a Nov. 4 posting on his corporate blog.
"And while both are true,
copy & paste will be available as an update in a matter of weeks (early
2011) and as for applications, it's just a matter of time."
Windows Phone 7 currently lacks multitasking, as well as support for
tethering and Adobe Flash. Despite those missing features, Microsoft hopes that
consumers and businesspeople alike will gravitate toward Windows Phone 7's
unique interface, which includes six subject-specific "Hubs" that
aggregate Web content and applications.
A truly massive Windows Phone 7 update could address some of these missing
features, broadening the platform's appeal at a time when its sales prospects
are decidedly mixed. Although Microsoft has offered no hard numbers, a report
from TheStreet.com suggested that some 40,000 Windows Phone 7 devices had sold on Nov. 8, their
first day of U.S.
release on AT&T and T-Mobile. That number supposedly came from an unnamed "market
research source who tracks phone sales."
International news outlets such as DigiTimes have reported strong Windows
Phone 7 sales in parts of Europe and Australia,
although a new report from retailer MobilesPlease indicated
that the devices were being outsold by their Google Android and Symbian
counterparts in the U.K
"Windows Phone 7 has [gotten] off to a sluggish start as far as our
customers are concerned," reads a Nov. 29 posting on MobilesPlease's
, "accounting for just 3 [percent] of smartphone sales
and a little under 2 [percent] of overall sales through MobilesPlease.co.uk and
our network of mobile phone partner sites."
If Windows Phone 7 succeeds in the marketplace, it will reverse several
quarters of declines for Microsoft's smartphone franchise, which has faced
fierce competition from the iPhone and a growing number of Google Android