Samsung plans to manufacture Windows Phone 7 smartphones, which it will launch before the end of 2010. That official announcement follows months of widespread speculation-backed by leaked photos and video-that Samsung would produce the devices.
Samsung already produces several smartphones that run Google Android, one of the major competitors to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. For its part, Microsoft hopes that a healthy number of devices running the operating system, combined with a wide variety of mobile apps and services, will help it re-establish a position in the smartphone market. Unlike Android and the Apple iPhone, which rely on grid-like screens of individual apps for their user interface, Windows Phone 7 aggregates Web content and apps into a series of subject-specific “Hubs” such as “Office” and “Games.”
Microsoft is expected to formally launch Windows Phone 7 in October.
“The addition of Windows Phone 7 devices to Samsung’s smartphone portfolio is a significant milestone,” Simon Stanford, head of Mobile for Samsung UK and Ireland, wrote in a Sept. 30 statement. “Samsung’s new Windows Phone 7-based smartphones will play a key role in reinforcing Samsung’s leadership in the smartphone market and commitment to providing a range of devices across a variety of platforms.”
Samsung’s statement failed to mention the exact number of Windows Phone 7 smartphones it plans on launching; but Europe, the United States and Asia will apparently receive devices during the 2010 rollout.
“For years, Samsung has been a key partner in bringing new Windows phones to customers all over the world,” Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s OEM Division, also wrote in a Sept. 30 statement. “Windows Phone 7 is an important release and we look forward to deepening our collaboration with Samsung on mobile devices and beyond, with our multiscreen strategy.”
Windows Phone 7 reached its release-to-manufacturing milestone Sept. 1, after which Microsoft’s OEM partners began integrating the software with their devices. That followed a summer of extensive internal testing, with more than 1,000 Microsoft employees evaluating the platform’s battery life, usability, and network connectivity.
Microsoft will spend nearly a half-billion dollars in marketing during Windows Phone 7’s initial rollout, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg. “This is make-or-break for them. They need to do whatever it takes to stay in the game,” he told the blog TechCrunch Aug. 26. “They don’t have to take share from Android or Apple, so long as they can attract enough consumers switching from feature phones.”
Goldberg estimated Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 marketing tab at $400 million, but that doesn’t include the already-substantial development costs for the platform. Microsoft is reportedly offering financial incentives to mobile-applications developers, as part of its bid to develop a robust apps storefront.
Microsoft hopes that Windows Phone 7 will reverse the company’s mobile market-share slide. In addition to the Apple iPhone and Google Android, the company also faces competition in the enterprise from Research In Motion, which seems determined to revive its own fortunes with new devices such as the BlackBerry Torch 9800.
“We missed a generation with Windows Mobile. We really did miss a release cycle,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the audience during his July 12 keynote at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference. However, he promised, “We will give you a set of Windows-based devices that people will be proud to carry.”