Speaking Thursday at the Asia D conference hosted by All Things Digital, Andy Lees, president of the Microsoft’s phone software division, said the Nokia launch would help Windows 7, the latest version of the company’s mobile software, which has gotten a slow start since its rollout a year ago. All Things Digital is an online publishing partner of The Wall Street Journal.
The smartphone sector is currently dominated by Apple and Android phones, which together make up about half of the market, with Microsoft seen as slow to react to the rapidly rising popularity of mobile devices.
“We’ve seen hardware manufacturers very nervous about what Google is doing. I think anyone who turns around and competes with you is a cause for concern,” Andrew Lees, president of Microsoft’s Windows phone division, told Reuters in an interview inHong Kongon Thursday.
“As the price comes down, emerging markets do become a huge opportunity, but also the existing markets in western Europe and the U.S., because as the price point comes down, more people will get into the smartphone market,” Lees said.
Lees said there were currently more than 30,000 applications for Windows smartphones, compared with about 500,000 applications in Apple’s App Store.
Microsoft would launch Samsung and HTC Mango smartphones in theUnited StatesandEuropeover the next week or so, with Nokia following in various markets, Lees said.
At a retail price of €99.99 the HTC Radar is aimed directly in Android’s target market and with the new Nokia/Windows Phone smartphones due out in the New Year local moves by Microsoft such as this suggest that the smartphone wars have only just begun.
Fujitsu Ltd has already rolled out a Mango smartphone in Japan. Microsoft would launch its Mango handsets in China for the first time next year, Lees said.
“We’ll be going in for the first time in 2012 and we’ll be building unit volume from there,” Lees said.
Mr. Lees also used the Hong Kong conference for the first public demonstration of adaptations of Windows Mobile for Asian languages. For example, names using Chinese characters were displayed vertically on the phone’s home screen and in email and other applications.
He refused to comment on what other vendors in China, such as Lenovo Group Ltd and Huawei Technologies Ltd, Microsoft was talking to. He said: “We haven’t announced those, but that will be an extension of what we’re doing.”
Yesterday in Ireland Microsoft launched its latest Windows Phone campaign which uses Facebook (their Facebook page having been created on October 14), with support from YouTube, to give away eight Windows Phone-powered HTC Radar smartphones under the tagline, “Be Original”.
The competition asks users to “submit … photos of original thinking every week and the most creative entry will win the phone. Whether it’s street art, fashion or a club night, we want you to go out and capture the world, so we can share what inspires you. ” [via Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and The Sociable]