Windows Phone 8 Needs Attention from Wireless Biggies
Rajesh is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced that it will soon release its Windows Phone 8. The software company also disclosed that the phone would be launched with Nokia, Samsung, HTC, and Huawei who are building the device in compatibility with the new platform. However, the success of the launch and its ability to compete with iPhones and Androids largely depends on the assistance from the US carriers.
Windows Phone 8 appears to have great potential. Several new features added to the phone bring it in par with the smartphone giants, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). Let’s take a look at some of the specifications that the upcoming device claims.
A Look at the Device
The new phone will be running on a dual core processor which should enhance the quality of the video and improve other playback capabilities. The device features voice command, video calling on Skype, a Wallet hub to support near-field communication (NFC) for wireless transactions, and an in-built map for GPS navigation.
The voice recognition capability of the phone is said to be better than Apple’s Siri service. The feature lets users give commands not only to the operating system, but also to the apps as well. Also, Google has the NFC payment feature and Apple has the passbook, but Window Phone 8’s Wallet hub not only supports NFC payments, but can store credit card information as well as member cards and flier cards.
The new Microsoft phone will offer three resolution screens with an updated start screen in the new ‘Metro’ style. The start screen, which can be tailored, will center on touchable tiles with big icons that will have people, applications and other services which will get updated in real time.
The Upgrading Issue
The existing devices that are currently running on Windows Phone 7.5 versions cannot update to the new version. In addition, applications that are designed to run on Windows Phone 8 will be unable to work on older phones but the current applications can run on the new platform.
New applications generally do not run on the older OS, but smartphones which are less than two years old can get upgraded to the next versions. Still, Microsoft is not allowing the existing phones to upgrade to the new software. Reason being, the newer version can run only on dual core chips which are not existing in the current Windows Phones. Instead, Windows Phone 7.8 will be introduced that will possess several essential elements of Windows Phone 8 that can be updated to the older devices.
Despite the upgrading problem, the device shows great prospects. But whether it will be a hit in the smartphone arena or not, relies majorly on the marketing support that it receives from the wireless carriers. Let’s check out who the interested parties are.
What are the Carriers Saying?
Support from the big carriers is crucial to Microsoft’s success in the Windows Phone 8 launch. The company’s Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 were unable to grab much attention from national carriers such as Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and Sprint and so failed to gain market share. However, the picture looks much better now.
AT&T (NYSE: T) is currently the biggest backer of Windows Phone as they will offer it in five flavors of Windows Phone software. The company proposes to launch the new Windows Phone 8 version in the later part of the year. Coming to T-Mobile, the company is extremely enthusiastic and is ‘bullish’ about the release of the new version and plans to market it late this year once it is available.
The other two national carriers, Verizon and Sprint, have customarily been more supportive towards selling Google Androids and Apple iPhones. But this time they seem to be extending help to market the device. Verizon hasn’t given clear details but hints to bring the Windows Phone by this year end. Sprint too is quiet about its future roadmaps.
Smaller carriers such as MetroPCS and Leap Wireless are considering various things before diving in. MetroPCS is also not yet committed in marketing the new device as it wants to watch the acceptance of the phone among customers before taking a call. Leap’s Cricket plans to offer a range of phones to its subscribers and is presently in discussions with its OEMs on whether or not to deal in the new Windows Phone version. U.S. Cellular is still mum.
Microsoft’s announcement of the new Windows Phone 8 right after it disclosed the release of its Surface tablet shows just how desperate it is to fight Apple. The company’s acceptance by the carriers is going to decide the fate of this new device and finally account for its gain in market share.
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