Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Android, iPhone Leave Windows Mobile In Dust

Information Week

Windows Phone 7 can't arrive fast enough for Microsoft, which saw its share of the smartphone OS market fall a stunning 66% in just three months, according to new data released Monday.

Market watcher Canalys reported that Windows Mobile's share of the U.S. smartphone market slipped to just 3% in the three months ended September 30. That's down from about 9% in the second quarter. Microsoft's rivals, meanwhile, are surging.

Apple's iPhone, with a 26% share, was the best selling single platform shipped during the quarter. RIM, developer of the corporate-friendly BlackBerry, held a 24.2% stake. Google's Android OS, which is available on devices from a host of manufacturers, was the most popular mobile OS overall, with a 44% share.

Microsoft is hoping to avoid utter irrelevancy in the increasingly important smartphone market when it launches Windows Phone 7 later this month. AT&T will offer models from HTC, Samsung, and LG, while T-Mobile will stock units from HTC and Dell. Verizon and Sprint plan to begin offering Windows Phone 7 phones next year.

The OEM devices cover a broad range of form factors, from the Dell Venue Pro's slide-out keyboard to the HTC Surround's Dolby speakers, but all conform to a reference design laid out by Microsoft. All Windows Phone 7 devices, for instance, will feature a start screen that's grouped into six "Smart Tiles", from which users can view real-time updates and access calling, social media, messaging, photo, e-mail, and personal applications and services.

Canalys analyst Chris Jones said he believes Windows Phone 7 gives Microsoft a chance to get back into the smartphone race.

"Windows Phone 7 is streets ahead of earlier iterations and provides a vastly improved user experience that will pleasantly surprise many people when they come to use it," said Jones, in a statement. "The integration of Microsoft service assets, such as Xbox Live, Bing, Zune, and Office, greatly strengthens the proposition and we are confident that the initial array of products will perform well," said Jones.

The first Windows Phone 7 devices hit the U.S. market on November 8.