Monday, January 24, 2011

Windows Phone 7: What's Next?

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In the past few months since Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 all that has been seen is a bunch of ads promoting Windows Phone 7 as the smartphone for those who don't typically use smartphones.  Despite the claim 1.5 million Windows Phone handsets have been sold to carriers, there has been no mention of how many Windows Phone 7 handsets have been sold to consumers.  Undoubtedly there is so much more that can be done to sell Windows Phone 7.  Microsoft to their credit, including access to Xbox live and allowing developers of games that play on Xbox 360 to develop games to run on Windows Phone 7 that integrate into Xbox live will most certainly appeal to gamers.

To those who would never buy a smartphone and video game players, Microsoft has those users covered but for any other smartphone user, does Windows Phone 7 offer anything better than what they get from iPhone, Android, or Blackberry? The answer is generally considered to be an overwhelming no.  How can Microsoft turn things around before Windows Phone 7 ends up a lost cause, and not become another WebOS?

Firstly, the Big M will need to get Windows Phone 7 on every cell carrier they can.  Leaving out CDMA in the initial release of Windows Phone 7 was a fatal flaw, Now that Verizon will be carrying the iPhone Microsoft kissed away one of largest groups of cell phone subscribers.  That leaves Sprint's 45 million subscribers, may be the third largest carrier but still a large enough group of potential customers to make adding support for CDMA worthwhile for Microsoft.  There are still many subscribers on regional cell carriers where the only smartphone they have access to is Blackberries. That's is starting to change though, Android phones are now starting to appear on smaller carriers. 

Microsoft's long path to greater market share is not just getting Windows Phone 7 Handsets on more of today's wireless networks, but tomorrow's as well. Long Term Evolution or LTE currently being rolled out by Verizon, with deployment by AT&T next year and by T-Mobile to follow, getting Windows Phone 7 on LTE based smartphones will get Microsoft in ahead of most of the competition.  The only operating system will be available in the short term is Android.  Apple and Research In Motion have not yet even announced LTE iPhones or Blackberries.

Since Blackberry is widely considered to be in decline, and WebOS is considered to be a crash and burn, The smartphone OS market is shaping up to be a two horse race.  It would not be impossible for Microsoft to come from behind and become the third major player in the market. They can do it, they have done so before in home video games.

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