Microsoft is launching its new Windows Phone 7 devices on October 11, in a long overdue challenge to the dominance of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android in the smartphone sector.
The software giant, which became one of the world’s largest companies thanks to its dominance of the personal computer market, announced the New York launch event on Monday.
The event is expected to showcase phones from Samsung, LG and HTC running Microsoft’s new mobile operating system. It is still unclear when the new devices will be made available to customers, though analysts believe the phones could go on sale in Europe by the end of October and in the United States in November.
The announcement of the launch event came only two days after Microsoft sued Android phone maker Motorola for patent infringement, underscoring the company’s fierce rivalry with Google and Apple in smartphones.
Analysts say Microsoft’s outdated phone software has made it an also-ran in the sector with Goldman Sachs recently cutting Microsoft shares because of investor concerns about its deficit in the ‘growing migration to mobile devices.’
In an interview published Monday in the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged the company had ‘missed a cycle’ in mobile software, but said that the launch of Windows Phone 7 would enable the company to claw back market share.
‘In a sense, you could say we missed a cycle,’ he said. ‘We had some execution issues from an R&D perspective. In the time frame since the last significant release certainly the industry has moved, the technology has moved, the hardware has moved.’
Windows Phone 7 differs from the iPhone and Android by centring activity around hubs rather than just offering users a blank slate of applications.
Ballmer said: ‘Putting the activities that are most important in people’s lives and the people that are most important in people’s lives front-and-centre through these hubs, I think we’re going to capture hopefully the imagination of quite a good number of people.’
But he dismissed suggestions that the increasingly popular smartphones were going to make Microsoft’s dominance in PCs irrelevant. ‘I don’t think any part of the market stops being healthy. What’s the most popular smart device on the planet? It remains the PC. 350 million PCs sold this year, and smartphones might be, what, a little less than half of that. So smartphones are very important, so are PCs.’ [via Endgadget and CNet]