Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 at a colorful New York City event, in its latest attempt at retaking the smartphone market.
launched Windows Phone 7, its latest attempt to regain market share in
smartphones, with a colorful New York City
event Oct. 11. Windows Phone 7 will debut in the United
States in November, on nine different
devices from manufacturers such as Dell, LG Electronics and Samsung.
As with Windows 7, whose success Microsoft doubtlessly hopes Windows Phone 7
will emulate in the mobile market, Microsoft decided to host the launch in a
West Side loft whose stark lines and everything-white interior were meant to
convey a hip, vaguely bohemian vibe.
Unlike Google Android devices and the Apple iPhone, which offer gridlike
screens of individual apps, Windows Phone 7's user interface aggregates Web
content and apps into six subject-specific "Hubs" such as "People"
and "Games." Microsoft has been encouraging developers to build for
its new platform, hoping to grow an online storefront capable of competing with
Apple's App Store and similar competitors.
"I've been looking forward to this day for some time," Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer told media and analysts gathered for the New
York City event. "We focused in on the way real
people really want to use their phones when they're on the go. We want you to
get in, out and back to life."
Ballmer added: "We set out to build a phone that was thoroughly modern
... modern in the hardware we use, modern in its design principles."
Microsoft is also betting that tight integration with Office features, games
and apps will attract users.
At several events over the past year, Ballmer had acknowledged his company
had lost ground in the mobile market. Although the Windows Mobile franchise
made some early gains in that market, particularly among business users, its
user base has gradually decayed over the past several quarters. The company's
previous mobile update, Mobile 6.5,
failed to halt the decline.
"We were ahead of the game, and now we find ourselves No. 5 in
the market," Ballmer
told an audience during the D8 conference in June.
Microsoft's plans for regaining that lost ground include a massive marketing
at $400 million by Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg, and an initial
launch of nine devices in November. At launch, Windows Phone 7 will be
available only on GSM-based networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile; however,
the smartphone platform will appear on Verizon in early 2011.
AT&T will debut three devices in November, with the Samsung Focus
launching Nov. 8. Microsoft has imposed fairly strict hardware requirements on
its manufacturing partners, dictating that all devices feature three mechanical
buttons and a "pane of glass" form factor.
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.