Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 14:02 UK

Microsoft tries to revive mobile

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

phone with windows mobile
The new phones will be available on Oct 6th

Microsoft is hoping its new mobile phone software, to be launched in October, will revive its fortunes in the market for smart phones.

Analysts estimate Microsoft's Windows Mobile software trails fourth in the market with a 9% share while rival Symbian dominates with about 50%.

"Our new class of phones sets us up for the future," Microsoft's Stephanie Ferguson told BBC News.

Microsoft would not say how many new phones will feature Windows Mobile 6.5.

"We do expect to have a lot of momentum using the Windows brand more prominently," said Ms Ferguson, general manger in the Windows mobile group.

Microsoft's attempts in the mobile arena have been lame, lame, lame, to say the least
Paul Rubens, Internetnews.com

"It is a brand that customers know and trust and we haven't quite used it as well as we should. Our research with customers shows when we put Windows phones out there they are highly interested."

Among the mobile operators signing on are AT&T and Verizon in the US, Orange and T-Mobile in Europe, Telecom Italia Mobile in Latin America and NTT DoCoMo Inc and SK Telecom in Asia Pacific.

Handset makers producing phones powered by the software include LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC, Toshiba Corporation and Acer.

'Lame, lame, lame'

But despite the confident talk, analysts and industry watchers note that Microsoft is not where it would wish to be in the smart phone market.

Technology research firm Gartner said smart phones are the fastest growing segment of the mobile phone market topping 40 million sales and representing a 27% increase from the same period a year ago.

Boxes of Apple iPhones
Apple has sold more than 26 million phones in over 80 markets

Analyst company Canalys reported that shipments of devices powered by Windows Mobile fell to 9% of global smart phone shipments, down from the company's 14.3% share in the same period in 2008 and well behind Nokia's leading share of nearly 45%.

RIM's Blackberry commanded 20.9%. Apple's iPhone might demand the majority of headlines but has a 13.7% market share.

"Despite its domination of desktop and server room operating system sales, Microsoft's attempts in the mobile arena have been lame, lame, lame, to say the least," said Paul Rubens of Internetnews.com.

Ned Smith of DigitalMediaBuzz.com defended Windows Mobile as a worthwhile product.

"What gets lost in the hooting and hollering that often overpowers the smart phone conversation, is that Windows Mobile devices are plenty powerful, with ability to run Windows Mobile Office productivity apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There's also a user base well north of 30 million," noted Mr Smith.



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