Microsoft may announce its quarterly profits and revenues after the market closes Oct. 28, but one set of vital numbers won't be present on the company's balance sheets: sales of its new Windows Phone 7 smartphone platform.
Nonetheless, mobility-and the revenues generated from it-will loom large in Microsoft's subsequent quarters, as analysts and pundits will read those numbers for signs that the company's smartphone platform is succeeding against the well-entrenched Apple iPhone and Google Android franchises. AT&T plans on releasing the first two Windows Phone 7 devices, the HTC Surround and Samsung Focus, for the U.S. market Nov. 8.
At the company's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2010, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggested that Windows Phone 7 has a chance in a still-evolving smartphone market, and that Microsoft's take on the mobile user interface-which aggregates Web content and applications into a series of subject-specific "Hubs"-will resonate with consumers.
"We're early; there's no question we're early," he told the audience during an Oct. 28 speech, according to CNNMoney.com. "I think we kind of nailed it. When you see it, you just go -oooh'."
Ballmer also reiterated Microsoft's commitment to making a dent in the smartphone market, where its share has steadily declined over the past several quarters.
"Make no mistake about it, we're all in," Ballmer reportedly said. "I get all kinds of questions about -What if you don't do this or that,' or blah, blah, blah. Boom, baby, that's what we're going to do."
But Windows Phone 7's success is also highly dependent on its ability to build a mobile-apps ecosystem capable of competing with Apple's and Google's offerings. Over the summer, Microsoft confirmed that it was "investing heavily" in the developer community by "offering as many resources as we can," in a bid to encourage app development. The company also posted online a series of tutorials aimed at game and app developers.
Some 1,000 apps have reportedly been built for the Windows Phone 7 platform, including staples such as an official Twitter app and an eBay Mobile app. But at least for the moment, that lags far behind Google's and Apple's app stores, which boast hundreds of thousands of apps.
"We need your best work," Ballmer told the developers in the PDC audience, according to the Associated Press. Microsoft is reportedly offering Windows Phone 7 devices to the conference's paid attendees, in a further bit of encouragement.