Microsoft originally said that Rovio’s hit game Angry Birds would make its debut in May, but that date was later pushed until June 29th. That day is finally here and, as promised, the game is now available in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Oddly enough, the title will cost gamers $2.99 — quite a price hike over the free ad-supported version available on Android, and even the $0.99 price tag for iOS devices. Worse yet, it doesn’t appear that Angry Birds Seasons — which is being updated every month with new levels — is available. Hopefully that version will be available soon, too, but we wouldn’t hold our breath. Game on! More →
Microsoft is currently offering Windows Phone handsets from three major U.S. carriers for just a penny each. Through the company’s online Microsoft Store, users can now purchase either Verizon Wireless’ HTC Trophy, Sprint’s HTC Arrive or T-Mobile’s HTC HD7 for just $0.01 alongside a 2-year contract with a smartphone data plan. While the HD7 is the oldest of the bunch, it’s still a wonderfully capable supersized smartphone that we enjoyed very much when we reviewed it last November. The Trophy is Verizon’s first Windows Phone, featuring HD video capture and SRS WOW HD sound, and the HTC Arrive is easily our favorite Windows Phone to date. Microsoft’s penny offers are only good through July 2nd, 2011. More →
Bernstein Research analyst Pierre Ferragu didn’t say that Nokia should go back to making boots in his note to investors on Wednesday, but he came pretty close. Citing Nokia’s inability to adapt in a fast-changing market, Ferragu cut his rating on Nokia stock to under-perform and dropped his price target from $7.33 to $4. “In a fast changing market, Nokia is losing ground very rapidly,” the analyst writes. “The profit warning for the second quarter provided evidence that the next couple of years will prove very challenging, with the gross margin and market share trends of the last 4 quarters continuing, if not accelerating even more. The collaboration with Microsoft now appears to us unlikely to be successful, as Nokia’s brand is losing ground too fast and the window of opportunity for an alternative ecosystem is vanishing rapidly. Even modeling a scenario in which Nokia stabilizes next year leads us to believe that the stock will under-perform over the next twelve months.” Ferragu believes Nokia’s smartphone market share will be cut in half in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the same quarter a year earlier, dropping from 38% to just 19%, and he expects Nokia’s overall cell phone market share to slide from 35% to 30%.
When Nokia reintroduces itself to the world as a Windows Phone maker later this year, many anticipate that the company will instantly steal the limelight from other Microsoft partners. If HTC has anything to say about it, however, that won’t be the case. HTC looks primed to take a giant leap forward in the megapixel race with a 12-megapixel Windows Phone that can shoot RAW images. Industry insider Eldar Murtazin on Sunday posted an image and preliminary impressions of the unreleased Windows Phone being readied by HTC. The smartphone resembles the HTC Trophy just launched by Verizon Wireless, but the addition of a 12-megapixel camera supplies a point of differentiation that could have photogs drooling in anticipation. HTC has never been known to equip its smartphones with good image sensors and Murtazin says the quality of images taken with the upcoming 12-megapixel offering is just “not bad at all,” but he’s working with pre-release software so let’s hope HTC has some tweaks in store ahead of launch. More →
According to research firm Gartner, although Microsoft shipped 2 million Windows Phone units during Q4 of 2010, it sold 1.6 million units during Q1 of 2011.”Windows Phone saw only modest sales that reached 1.6 million units in the first quarter of 2011,” wrote Gartner. “Devices launched at the end of 2010 failed to grow in consumer preference and CSPs continued to focus on Android.” Gartner is, however, predicting big things for Microsoft’s smartphone operating system. By 2015, the analytics company predicts that Windows Phone will see shipments in excess of 215 million units — thanks in large part to its partnership with Nokia. This would put Microsoft in second place in global market share — behind the open-source smartphone-overlord Android and ahead of the not-so-open-source iOS. More →
Despite early reports that Rovio would push Angry Birds for Windows Phone out of the nest on May 25th, Microsoft said on Wednesday that the game won’t launch until June 29th. The good news is that there will be plenty of other new titles to hold Windows Phone users over. Hydro Thunder Go will debut on May 25th, Doodle Jump lands on June 1st, geoDefense will launch on June 8th, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 will be available on June 15th, and Plants vs Zombies will launch on June 22nd. Microsoft didn’t clarify why it pushed the launch out, but we suspect it’s just in an effort to offer a new game every week. Don’t forget: we’ll be reporting live from Microsoft’s Windows Phone press event in New York City next Tuesday at 10am, where we’ll hear more details on the platform. More →
Paul Bryan, Microsoft’s senior director of business experiences product management for Windows Phone, has written a blog post that details Windows Phone Mango’s business productivity features. The update, which will be discussed in deeper detail during a press conference in New York City on May 24th, will include pinnable email folders for quick access from the homescreen, conversation view in email, server search, and a new Lync application for business chat users. Bryan also said there will be added capabilities for IT departments, including complex password support, information rights management support, and the ability to access hidden corporate Wi-Fi networks. “This week, we expect to exceed 16,000 apps available in the Windows Phone Marketplace,” Bryan added. We’ll be reporting live from Microsoft’s press conference on the 24th. More →
Several new features set to be introduced in Microsoft’s upcoming “Mango” update for Windows Phone were revealed this past weekend. We already knew that Mango is set to be a major update to the Windows Phone platform — perhaps the most anticipated new feature is improved multitasking support — but Microsoft had been keeping several upcoming additions under wraps. Newly revealed features include Bing Audio, which will identify songs by listening to music, a la Shazam; Bing Vision, which will provide barcode scanning along with a host of camera-assisted search functions; the addition of turn-by-turn navigation to Bing Maps; speech recognition support in the messaging app; and a new native podcast player. None of these new features have been confirmed by Microsoft at this point but considering the proven track record of the source, it looks like Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 update is going to be even more exciting than we thought. More →
Microsoft has confirmed that its Windows Phone 7 platform on Friday suffered its second major outage this week. Early on Friday, users began reporting that they could not access Xbox LIVE services from their Windows Phone 7 devices. BGR had independently confirmed the issue on two separate devices, and now Microsoft has acknowledged the outage via its official Windows Phone support team Twitter account. “It’s a new issue that users are unable to access Xbox LIVE features at this time,” a Microsoft official posted to the Twitter account. Earlier this week, Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace suffered an outage that prevented users from accessing the company’s mobile app store during a scheduled maintenance that was extended due to complications. More →
Dell’s Venue Pro smartphone had its share of setbacks at launch, but we really grew to enjoy the device once the wrinkles were all ironed out. The build is outstanding, the design is sleek, the slightly curved display is unique, the 4.1-inch AMOLED display is nice and vivid, and we have big hopes for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform. On Thursday, Dell quietly launched a new version of its Venue Pro smartphone, this time with T-Mobile’s 3G bands swapped out for AT&T’s. Beyond that, the device has the same great look and feel, the same great build, and the same affordable price tag — just $99.99 with a 2-year contract. More →
Rumors that the HTC Trophy will land on Verizon Wireless have been swirling since last year, but the carrier has yet to make an official announcement. That may change soon, as the Trophy has been spotted on Best Buy’s website, suggesting that an imminent launch is possible. The page is no longer live, although Pocketnow managed to grab a screen shot before it was pulled. The device was listed for $599.99 before any Verizon Wireless subsidies, but it’s possible that that figure is a placeholder until an official price is revealed. The tale of the Trophy landing on Verizon is as old as time itself: A Verizon branded HTC Trophy was leaked in early March, and despite reports that the phone would launch in “early 2011” or “late March,” the phone has yet to surface in any official capacity. More →
Might as well let other major mobile operating system manufacturers in on the location-tracking scandal fun, no? While Apple, and to a much lesser extent Google, have come under fire for their phone location storage practices, other major OS manufacturers have been silent. We’re not sure being the “squeaky wheel” would pay dividends in this instance. That hasn’t stopped the media from asking, however, and CNET posed the question to Microsoft: what do you track?
“Microsoft says its operating system transmits the MAC address of the Wi-Fi access point (but not the name), signal strength, a randomly generated unique device ID retained for an unspecified limited period of time, and, if GPS is turned on, the precise location and direction and speed of travel,” writes CNET. “That happens when the ‘application or user makes a request for location information,’ the company says.”
CNET has a laundry list of questions for Microsoft that remain unanswered. The current location brouhaha now has the attention of the courts and some distinguished members of the United States Congress — so we’re betting most major mobile operating system manufacturers will be answering questions in an official capacity in the near future. More →
Nokia and Microsoft have inked a “definitive agreement” that will see the Redmond-based software company’s Windows Phone mobile operating system running on the Finnish manufacturers hardware. Promising “unique innovation,” the announcement notes that they two companies are on schedule to delivery mass shipments in 2012, although “the pressure is on for first delivery in 2011.” The new agreement was reached just ten weeks after the duo announced a partnership at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The full press release and a video explanation of the agreement are waiting for you after the break. More →