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Microsoft spends millions on training as HTC shows Windows Phones

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FA show gives glimpse of new HTC Titan and Radar phones running Windows Phone Mango to arrive in October as marketing head says 20% market share forecasts are conservative

htc-radar

The new HTC Radar, which will run the Windows Phone Mango OS

Microsoft is investing millions of dollars in training “hundreds” of sales staff for phone companies worldwide to encourage them to sell devices running its Windows Phone operating system, as the company tries to catch up in the smartphone market.

The news came as Taiwan’s HTC unveiled two new smartphones on Thursday – called Titan and Radar – which are based on Mango, the next update to Windows Phone, and said that they will be available from October. They will almost certainly be the first using the Windows Phone 7.5 software to be available in Europe.

The Titan model will be priced somewhat above Apple‘s iPhone but carries a wider 4.7in display. The HTC Radar phone will be priced at similar levels to other smartphones.

Achim Berg, Microsoft’s head of Windows Phone marketing, told Bloomberg that forecasts by market analysts that the operating system will have a 20% share by 2015 are conservative – even though it is languishing with a 1.6% world market share in the second quarter of the year according to the analysts Gartner.

“This is a completely new platform, it takes time,” Berg told Bloomberg. “It took time with Android, it took time with Apple. We have to show that we’re very capable and that we have the fastest and easiest phone.” Part of that effort will involve tutoring shop staff selling the handsets in how to show off the phones to best effect.

Other analysts say that Windows Phone has a mountain to climb in order to reach the aim expressed by Stephen Elop, chief executive of Nokia – which will use Windows Phone in forthcoming smartphones – of becoming the “third ecosystem” in the field alongside Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

Horace Dediu, a former Nokia executive who now runs the independent consultancy Asymco, noted that in the US Android and iOS phones cumulatively outnumber Windows Phone devices – which there have a 4.5% share – by 12 to one: “To become the largest mobile platform in the US, as some analysts are predicting, Microsoft has a 12:1 disadvantage that looks to continue to grow. Those are some pretty tough odds.”

But Microsoft is undaunted. “I am confident on Q3. We see a strong Q4,” Florian Seiche, head of HTC’s business in Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Reuters at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. He said good demand for its latest models was continuing, despite macroeconomic worries and longer replacement cycles in some countries.

On 29 July, HTC gave a better than expected forecast for the third quarter, estimating sales of all its phones – which includes both Android and Windows Phone smarpthones – would double from a year ago to 13.5m, while its gross margin would be around 28%, down from 29-30% in previous quarters.

HTC’s shares have fallen as much as 40% from their peak in April because of the slowing growth, courtroom fights with Apple over patents and stiff competition. Microsoft has also won a per-handset payment – believed to be around $5 (£3) – for each Android handset HTC ships after claiming that HTC’s Android phones infringe its patents.

Analysts say HTC needs new markets to sustain growth and will have to call again on the speed and innovation that turned the once obscure Taiwanese company into a global brand in five years and propelled its market value beyond that of Nokia this year.

“HTC will be hoping the heightened awareness of Windows Phone as a result of Nokia cosying up to Microsoft will help kick-start interest in these new phones after the dismal reception of Windows Phone this time last year,” said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.

Nokia, still the world’s largest cellphone vendor by volume, has decided to dump its own Symbian software in favour of Windows Phone. The first devices, running Mango, are expected later this autumn, but analysts think that it will not be before late spring next year that the Finnish company will have a range of handsets with which to target the market. Meanwhile, the company fell into loss in the last quarter, and that is not expected to improve this year.

Microsoft first announced Windows Phone in February 2010, ditching its longstanding Windows Mobile operating system in the face of competition from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. Windows Phone was launched in October 2010, but the company has given few details about how many handset licences have been sold as market figures have suggested a slow start.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 3, 2011 at 10:57

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Facebook + Skype = Video Chat. Is it finally happening? – Facebook

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Yesterday, TNW posted that Facebook is about to announce something awesome. Speculation runs high that Facebook will finally release its iPad application, filling a hole which has been desperately wanted by its mobile-loving users. But another consideration is that Facebook is finally partnering with Skype to offer live video chat to its users. Whatever product is released, it has been built by Facebook’s 40-person Seattle team.

And do you know what is near Seattle? Microsoft. And what has Microsoft just bought? Skype. And have you heard how chummy Facebook and Microsoft are? While they’ve had their disputes in the past, the two are financially in bed with one another. Facebook’s ties to Microsoft began 2006 when they first signed an advertising deal; the two companies still continue to have an ad partnership powerful enough to make Google shiver. And no small detail: Microsoft has owned 3% of Facebook since it invested $240 million in the social network in 2007.

We reported on the possible Facebook and Skype partnership last September when discussions between the two companies reportedly began. After numerous Skype updates, including an October update that allowed Skype 5.0 users to SMS, chat or call their Facebook friends via Skype right from the News Feed, news remained quiet. That is, until March, when rumors swirled again starting from a report in Bloomberg that Facebook had resumed talks with global VoIP service Skype, a partnership that would offer Web video calls to anyone with a Facebook account within the social media platform.

Tech Crunch’s Mike Arrington has gone so far as to confirm this speculation. He writes: “Next week, says a source with knowledge of the partnership, Facebook will launch a new video chat product, powered by Skype, that works in browser…The product has been built on Skype and will include a desktop component.”

via Facebook + Skype = Video Chat. Is it finally happening? – Facebook.

Written by Kees Winkel

July 3, 2011 at 11:10

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iOS 5′s Fancy New Camera Trick? Microsoft Has A Patent On It

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At Apple’s WWDC keynote last week, we finally got a sneak peek into iOS 5. Amongst other things, Apple revealed that its camera app would be getting quite the makeover.

Pretty much immediately after the new camera tricks were demonstrated, people began noting similarities between iOS 5′s new focal features and some of those found in Windows Phone 7. Even Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore touched on the matter, tweeting, “Feeling flattered today. Lots of WP ideas headed to iOS.” As it turns out, Apple may have to cough up some cash (or possibly already is) for at least one of those cool new capabilities; Microsoft has held a patent on the mimicked feature since February of 2010.

The suspiciously similar feature in question: the ability to swipe back into your camera roll while taking a picture, no button pressing necessary. Seem trivial? Sure — but those are the woes of a software-patent-friendly world.

While Windows phone owners probably feel a little perturbed by the fact that Apple hijacked their WP7 exclusive, Microsoft may not even mind as long as it can squeeze some cash out of Apple the same way it has with Google’s Android OS. Of course, patent wars are merely part of the game for these guys; at this point, most of the big names have enough patents in their arsenal to turn any infringement claims around on whoever is brave enough to come pecking for cash, so they generally avoid going head-to-head.

via iOS 5′s Fancy New Camera Trick? Microsoft Has A Patent On It.

Written by Kees Winkel

June 14, 2011 at 12:52

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In hunt for content, Xbox could open up its walled garden — Online Video News

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Earlier this week, Microsoft teased the E3 audience with the promise of live TV “coming soon” to the device as part of a user interface update that is expected to be launched later this year. In a phone interview earlier this week, Xbox Live senior marketing director Craig Davison gave us more details about how the company is building its content ecosystem.

Davison said that the Xbox team is in the initial stages of expanding the amount of content available on its Xbox Live service, and is especially working on bringing live TV to the console. To do so, Microsoft has released a software development kit (SDK) that partners can use to build applications for the service.

“We would like to see the process as streamlined as possible… We release our SDK on a partner-to-partner basis,” Davison said. While Microsoft is focused primarily on building content partnerships with major distributors, like cable and satellite providers, Davison said the company could someday open up its SDK to other third-party developers to create apps for the platform.

“Once we get our SDK strategy really nailed for public usage, you’ll see more of that,” Davison said.

via In hunt for content, Xbox could open up its walled garden — Online Video News.

Written by Kees Winkel

June 11, 2011 at 23:40

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Samsung reportedly lining up Nokia acquisition – Mobile

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Not Microsoft but Samsung?

News out of Finland has put Samsung as the latest potential buyer of ailing mobile vendor Nokia, shifting focus from Microsoft, which was also rumoured to be tabling a bid for the company.

The Wall Street Journal has attempted to chase Nokia and Samsung for comment – predictably, both have responded with statements that they do not comment on rumours.

Reports of a Samsung takeover by the WSJ may hold more weight than the speculative tweets of industry insider Eldar Murtazin, although the pundit has successfully predicted acquisitions and partnerships in the past. Nokia recently moved to state that Murtazin was “getting obviously less accurate with every passing moment” but did not categorically rule out an acquisition by Microsoft.

Nokia, which is currently working on readying Windows Phone devices to release in the fourth quarter of 2011, recently laid off 7,000 staff as it tried to streamline operations.

If Samsung was to acquire the stricken manufacturer, it would position the company as the top Windows Phone provider, in addition to the success of its Android offerings.

via Samsung reportedly lining up Nokia acquisition – Mobile.

Written by Kees Winkel

June 9, 2011 at 09:09

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Microsoft strikes deal to acquire Nokia’s phone business for $19B, insider claims

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According to industry insider Eldar Murtazin, Microsoft has struck a deal to purchase Nokia’s mobile phone business for $19 billion. Just two weeks ago, Murtazin — who has a proven track record and was the first to report that Nokia has struck a deal to use Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform on its smartphones — suggested that Microsoft and Nokia were about to enter closed-door meetings to negotiate a possible purchase that could close sometime before the end of this year. It could make sense: Nokia’s CEO is former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop, and the two companies have already reached a deal to create new Windows Phone devices, a dozen of which are expected to launch next year. We’ll have to see how this pans out, but a Nokia spokesperson had already addressed Murtazin’s earlier claims, saying “Eldar’s rumors are getting obviously less accurate with every passing moment.” Nokia declined to comment on Murtazin’s claim this time around.

Thanks, Johnny

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via Microsoft strikes deal to acquire Nokia’s phone business for $19B, insider claims.

With possible Nokia deal, Microsoft could try to become the next Apple

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Apple, a company many said had repeatedly delayed the development and launch of the iPhone for fear that it might cannibalize its iPod business, is now a “mobile devices company” with a smartphone that is undoubtedly its flagship device. Chief Executive Steve Jobs and Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook have both publicly acknowledged this major transition on several occasions, including on stage while unveiling the iPad and on earnings calls while speaking with analysts. Apple is growing at an unheard of pace and stockpiling mountains of cash, all thanks to its mobile business. Personal Computers, Apple’s core business for nearly 30 years, now play second fiddle to the company’s mobile devices in terms of both revenue and mind share. On the other side of the table, old rival Microsoft is doing all it can to regain its footing in the mobile space after letting its Windows Mobile platform grow stale and moldy. Windows Mobile’s replacement, Windows Phone, is still in its infancy but early reports have suggested adoption has been slow at best. So where does Microsoft go from here?

Read the whole interesting story at BGRWith possible Nokia deal, Microsoft could try to become the next Apple.

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