Microsoft is planning a software tool that will sync its upcoming Windows Phone 7 with Macs.
"Later in 2010 Microsoft will make a public beta available of a tool that allows Windows Phone 7 to sync select content with Mac computers," reads a statement from the company e-mailed to eWEEK. As other news sites have pointed out, however, questions remain about the nature of that "select content."
Should a Mac-syncing tool for Windows Phone 7 come to fruition, it would suggest that Microsoft has aggressive designs on the entire smartphone user-base. More to the point, Windows Phone 7 needs to take market share from rivals such as the Apple iPhone if it wants to succeed-and a big part of that strategy involves supporting Windows Phone 7 on as many platforms as possible.
That being said, Apple may very well push back however it can. In 2009, Apple and Palm engaged in the smartphone equivalent of whack-a-mole, with the latter pushing software updates that allowed Palm Pre users to sync their devices with iTunes. Apple reacted with its own series of updates, denying the Pre that capability. Should Microsoft try something similar with Windows Phone 7, it would likely provoke a similar response from Apple.
Yet syncing with iTunes may not be a top Microsoft priority. Oded Ran, head of consumer marketing for Windows Phone in Britain, Tweeted Oct. 12: "DAILY #WP7 ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm glad to confirm that Mac users would be able to use Zune on their Macs to sync with #WP7. More details soon." That Tweet was subsequently yanked, but a screen-grab can be found on Neowin.net.
Zune software on the Mac would conceivably allow users to sync their music and multimedia with a Windows Phone 7. Until Microsoft provides additional details, though, everything remains the purest conjecture.
Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7, its latest attempt to regain market share in smartphones, with a colorful New York City event Oct. 11. The platform will debut in the United States in November, on nine different devices from manufacturers such as Dell, LG Electronics and Samsung.
"The challenges are considerable given that Microsoft is coming to this three years or more behind," Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, wrote in an Oct. 11 research note. "However, they have done about as best as anyone can do in a 12-month timeframe from inception."
Hilwa predicts that app developers will gravitate towards the platform in coming months. "I have no doubt that they will have several thousand apps six months from now, and they appear to be covering the bases with the major popular apps. The new angle, which is a bit of an outflanking strategy, is the gaming angle and the ties to Xbox Live."
Windows Phone 7 will launch first on GSM-only networks such as AT&T, which is planning to roll out three smartphones in the November-December timeframe. It will then appear on CDMA networks such as Verizon in early 2011.