Microsoft and AT&T unveiled three new smartphones on Monday that are based on the software giant's new Windows Phone 7.5 platform, also known as Mango. To celebrate the launch, Microsoft constructed a six-story Windows Phone in the middle of New York City's Herald Square.
The mammoth structure incorporates giant LED screens that simulate the Metro-style interface of live tiles that are displayed on Mango handset screens. The simulation was to run through Monday evening.
"You'll see games in the Games Hub, music in the Music plus Video Hub, people in the People Hub," wrote Microsoft blogger Michael Stroh.
Mango's live-tile home screen -- "especially in the way developers can use the tiles" -- is going to be imitated by other platforms, noted Al Hilwa, the director of applications development software at IDC. But for Mango to succeed as a mobile platform, Microsoft will need to forge "market-by-market breakthroughs" by means of carrier and OEM alliances as well as through the fierce marketing of devices, he said.
"This is the nature of the Android ecosystem and it is the model Microsoft will likely have to follow," Hilwa said in an e-mail Monday. "The Nokia partnership brings exactly this expertise in various markets."
New Mango Models
AT&T is taking orders for two Mango-based handsets from Samsung and with a third model called the HTC Titan -- which will sport an extra-large, 4.7-inch display ? set to follow shortly.
Priced at $200, the new Samsung Focus S offers buyers a 4.3-inch super AMOLED plus display, a 1.4GHz processor and 8-megapixel camera. The new Samsung Focus Flash -- which features a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen, 1.4GHz processor and 5-megapixel camera -- is priced at an ultra-low $50.
T-Mobile unveiled its own Mango-based smartphone offering last week. Called the HTC Radar 4G, the new smartphone has a post-rebate price of $100. U.S. consumers who buy any of the new Mango-based handsets launching this month will receive a $25 prepaid app card for free, which they can use to buy mobile software offerings at Windows Phone Marketplace.
According to comScore, Microsoft's Windows Phone platform held a 5.6 percent U.S. market share at the end of September -- slightly down from a 5.8 percent share at the end of this year's second quarter. So with respect to Mango, Microsoft has nowhere to go but up.
A Long-Term Project
Google Android mobile OS held a 44.8 percent U.S. market share at the end of the third quarter, followed by Apple's iPhone models (27.4 percent) and Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets (18.9 percent), comScore reported Friday.
"Breaking through to the same league as iOS and Android is a long-term project for Microsoft," Hilwa said. And the extent to which Microsoft is able to succeed "will depend on many things -- including the differentiated value Microsoft can bring in business apps, gaming, developer ecosystem, device diversity, and so forth," he said.
From an app portfolio perspective, Hilwa is impressed with the existing portfolio for Windows Phone and does not think that the lower app count at Windows Phone Marketplace is a liability for the platform.
"I think this generation of Windows Phone will see more success than the prior, but this is a long-term fight that will require continuous iterative improvement and new features and services to be added on a regular pace," Hilwa said.
"The technical capabilities in the software are already on par for all intents and purposes and any remaining gaps -- such as dual-core support -- are likely a release away from being closed," Hilwa added.