Windows Phone 7 is officially launching in the United States on AT&T and T-Mobile, with three devices that all involved hope will prove hits with consumers.
Microsoft officially launched its Hail Mary pass in the U.S.
smartphone market Nov. 8, with the release of Windows Phone 7 on AT&T and T-Mobile.
The software company hopes the new line of
smartphones will retake market share lost over the past several quarters to the
likes of the Apple iPhone and Google Android.
AT&T is offering the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround for
$199 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile's first Windows Phone 7 device, the HTC
HD7, retails for the same price with data plan.
Windows Phone 7 relies on six subject-specific "Hubs," such
as "People" and "Games," as opposed to the iPhone's or Android's grid-like
screens of individual apps. Microsoft has also imposed fairly strict hardware
requirements on its manufacturing partners, dictating that all devices feature
three mechanical buttons, a 1GHz processor and a generously sized
touch screen. Those manufacturers, in turn, tweaked that basic design with
their own hardware editions: the HTC Surround features a slide-out speaker and
kickstand, while the Samsung Focus boasts a slimmer body.
Windows Phone 7's availability is restricted to GSM-based
networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile until early 2011, when the smartphones
are slated to appear on Verizon. As to be expected, Microsoft's massive
marketing campaign has kicked off with a series of television ads; while the
company is unlikely to offer an official price tag for the promotional push, Deutsche
Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg estimated in August that it would spend close to
Early reports hint at strong sales for Windows Phone 7 in
international markets, with DigiTimes
reporting in a Nov. 3 article
that sales of the HTC-built Windows Phone 7
smartphones are "better than expected" in Europe and Australia. German stores
had apparently sold out their HTC HD 7 and HTC 7 Mozart stocks.
"Early supporters of the new operating system such as South
Korea's Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are also experiencing rising
demand from carriers," the article suggested, sourcing its information as
unnamed "Taiwan-based handset makers."
Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer, indicate
the company will continue to pour resources into its smartphone platform. Given
the tech industry's paradigm shift toward mobile, it has little other choice;
and bestselling Windows Phone 7 devices could help reverse the perception that
Microsoft's lagging badly behind Apple and Google in that particular area.
"Microsoft ends up getting a lot of flak for not being quick
enough to market, and while that's a fair criticism in certain situations, that
doesn't make it a dying brand," Arpan Shah, Microsoft's director for
in a Nov. 4 posting on his corporate blog
. He also cited Windows 7,
Internet Explorer Beta, Bing and Kinect as other examples of Microsoft making
its presence felt in the consumer arena.