Microsoft has denied an earlier report suggesting that the company plans to pay out billions of dollars in 2014 in an effort to ensure that a number of top smartphone vendors release phones powered by the Windows Phone platform this year. According to plugged-in Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin, Microsoft has plans to dole out more than $2.5 billion this year to Samsung, Sony, Huawei and several other smartphone makers to guarantee that they build and launch a single Windows Phone handset each in 2014. The exact purpose of the funds was not detailed. While Microsoft has not denied that payments will be made, the company’s head of communications has gone on record in stating that Murtazin’s report is not accurate. More →
Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is more than three years old now and its global market share still sits in the low single digits. The platform is starting to gain momentum in some markets thanks to Nokia’s low-end phones, but Microsoft wants to make sure that momentum doesn’t hit a brick wall when it finally takes over Nokia’s devices and services business. According to one insider, Microsoft will use its sizable cash reserves to give various vendor partners the push they need to keep building Windows Phones. And that “push” will apparently cost the company several billion dollars. More →
It doesn’t seem likely that Microsoft plans to give up on Bing anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean its customers are following suit. According to a tweet from Kantar Worldreport, Windows Phone users only resorted to searching with the default engine 52% of the time in Q4 2013. The rest are “actively avoiding the integrated Bing Phone search” and instead opening their browsers to search with Google. Bing might not be a dead platform, but when users are willing to expend more energy to use another service that provides similar results, it might be time to rethink your strategy. Kantar also claims that users are “quickly switching” to Google, so before long a majority of Windows Phone users will have deserted Bing.
Sony has confirmed in an interview that a single mobile OS strategy is not good enough for its mobile goals anymore, even if the collaboration with Google has been fruitful, bringing several interesting Android-based Xperia flagship handsets to consumers in recent years. “We are continuing our discussions with other partners, including Microsoft, as part of our partnership with this company on the broader Sony spectrum,” Sony Mobile Europe head Pierre Perron told TechRadar in an interview. “We don’t want to be a single OS manufacturer, I don’t think it’s a viable position in the long term.” More →
Here’s some more evidence that 2014 is shaping up to be Windows Phone’s breakthrough year. Per Neowin, Microsoft has released a statement this week claiming that Windows Phone devices have out-shipped Apple’s iPhone in 24 markets, including Italy, Finland, Poland, India, South Africa and Nigeria. More →
In an attempt to better compete against Google in the mobile business, Microsoft reportedly considered various “unconventional tactics,” including letting smartphone buyers choose the mobile OS for their future handset, The Information reports (via The Next Web). “In one scenario, a smartphone buyer would be able to walk into a wireless carrier store, find a phone they like and only then choose whether they want Windows Phone or Android software to power it permanently,” a confidential document from a potential Windows Phone partner revealed. More →
Outside of the Apple ecosystem, affordability reigns supreme. According to the latest data from AdDuplex, the budget-priced Lumia 520 has now taken more than 30% of the Windows Phone market share, and when combined with the Lumia 521, the two phones make up more than one-third of all Windows Phone sales worldwide. And if you narrow the results to just Windows Phone 8 devices, then the Lumia 520 and 521 account for more than 40% of all devices sold. The Lumia 520 has been the undisputed leader of the Windows Phone market for quite some time, and to further cement itself in that position, the phone has captured an additional 4% of the market over the past month. More →
While we’ve been laser-focused on Samsung’s split from Android, another major electronics company has purportedly been exploring other options as well. The Information reports that Sony is currently in talks with Microsoft to release a Windows Phone of its own as early as next year, breaking a four-year streak of Android exclusivity and pairing up two long-time rivals in the gaming console market. The sources say that Sony has already shared designs for a Windows Phone prototype with Microsoft, and also that any products released under the partnership would be branded as Sony Viao devices. The two companies have yet to finalize any plans, so roadblocks could undoubtedly arise, but if Microsoft can expand its mobile OS as far as Sony’s lineup, the platform might finally stand a fighting chance against Android and iOS.
The Windows Phone mobile platform may be looking to have an even better 2014 after showing some encouraging momentum this year, at least according to a Windows Supersite article written by Paul Thurrott. While Windows Phone is still trailing in third place behind Google and Apple when it comes to mobile market share, it has been growing at a faster rate than its competitors even though at the end of 2013 it still only owned just 3.6% of the overall market. In certain regions of the world including Europe and Latin America, Windows Phone has registered even better sales and has even surpassed an 8% share in the five biggest European markets. More →
In addition to mentioning several unconfirmed details about upcoming Windows Phone 9 changes, Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin has also revealed an even more interesting note about Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone plans: apparently the Redmond-based giant plans to pay an astounding $1 billion “bribe” to another tech behemoth to ensure that it continues making Windows Phone handsets. “Another ‘good’ news from Microsoft,” Murtazin wrote on Twitter. “Company negotiates with Samsung and offer $1 billion support if vendor will produce Windows Phone devices.” More →
Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin, known for some of his accurate tips on the mobile industry in the past, said on Twitter that Windows Phone 9 will launch at some point in the second half of 2014 (third or fourth quarter) without the iconic Metro user interface that’s currently present on all Windows Phone handsets and Windows tablets. In several tweets that followed, he suggested that the tiled Metro UI will still remain as an option to users. More importantly, he said that Windows RT will cease to exist as a standalone OS fork, as it will be incorporated in WP9, which will become the “same system” for phones and tablets. A previous report said that Microsoft sees Windows RT merging with Windows Phone by 2015. More →
Windows RT still might be folded into Windows Phone or canned completely at some point in the near future, but Microsoft is reportedly considering another, less severe option. According to a report from Verge, Microsoft is debating whether or not to release free versions of its Windows Phone and Windows RT software. The company currently charges partners a licensing fee per installation, just as it does with its Windows desktop operating system. Meanwhile, Android is free to smartphone and tablet makers. Couple that with Google’s massive app ecosystem and OEMs don’t have much of a reason to bother with Windows Phone or Windows RT. Verge says if Microsoft does offer versions of its smartphone and tablet software that don’t carry licensing fees, the move will be accompanied by an increased effort to push Microsoft’s apps and services.
What goes up must come down and on Wall Street, billions are made and lost betting on which direction companies are headed. Apple is the most valuable technology company in America by a huge margin so needless to say, it gets plenty of attention on the Street. At some point, be it sometime in the next few years or sometime in the next few decades, Apple will no longer be on top. It is inevitable. The question countless industry watchers try to answer, of course, is when. More →