After launching Windows 8 operating system (OS) for personal computers (PCs) last week, Microsoft has now set its eyes on the smartphone market with the mobile OS, Windows Phone 8.
The company showcased five new smartphones that are expected to launch in India soon and will be made by HTC, Nokia and Samsung, all of which will be running Windows Phone 8 OS, the latest version of the Redmond-based company’s two-year-old smartphone platform. Starting with the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, Windows Phone 8 devices are expected to be available in India from November.
According to Vineet Durani, director (Windows Phone Business Group), Microsoft India Microsoft hopes to see a faster acceleration of Windows smartphones in markets such as India. “We understand that bulk of smartphones sold in India are priced between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000. While it isn’t on us to dictate prices of Windows Phone 8 mobile phones, we do have examples like Nokia that are selling Windows (OS version 7.5) smartphones starting at Rs 11,000 today. That’s a start,” he says.
According to CyberMedia Research, total shipment of smartphones was about 5.5 million units between January and June 2012, led by Android (56.4 per cent), Symbian (17.4 per cent), BlackBerry (12.1 per cent), Bada (8.5 per cent), iOS (3 per cent) and Windows Mobile (2.6 per cent). Analysts also argue that while Windows Phone 8 has spurred some relatively innovative designs for the new generation of smartphones, its success lies on the willingness of Android and iOS consumers to try a different OS.
Durani is banking on markets such as India, where smartphone penetration is about 12 per cent of the total mobile base, to speed up Windows’ smartphone adoption. “As we see more and more devices come into the Windows Phone family from the existing mobile partners, we will begin to see multiple price points that will help consumers to choose better,” he says.
Microsoft India did not confirm whether it will tie up with homegrown handset players such as Micromax, Maxx, Karbonn, etc. to further Windows phone platform in India and other emerging markets. “We know that there is interest from smaller handset vendors for the Windows Phone 7 and 8 platform, but we have to ensure that the user experience is not compromised in the hurry to sell cheaper smartphones,” says Durani.
The Windows Phone platform, with the assistance of Nokia, will account for 13 per cent of the smartphone market globally in 2017, estimates IT and telecom analyst firm Ovum. Says Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum: “We expect Microsoft, despite its slow start, to have established Windows Phone as a relevant smartphone platform by 2017.” Dominating the global smartphone market will be Google’s Android OS, which accounted for 44 per cent of the smartphone market in 2011 and is set to reach 48 per cent over the five years.
Microsoft hopes that Windows Phone 8’s social features such as integrated screen approach (similar OS on PC, smartphone and tablets) will appeal to consumers, who will be able personalise their smartphone screens. The Windows Phone 8 devices will also come with built-in SkyDrive cloud service, and can be used seamlessly with Windows 8 PCs and the Xbox 360 console.