WP7 launches with loads of phones, titles, and a possible handset shortage

Nov 8, 2010
Finance

Monday is D Day for Microsoft (MSFT), the much-anticipated launch of its new Windows Phone 7 platform. The House That Gates Built has its sites on Apple (AAPL), the market leader with its iOS and iPhone and iPad, and the surging Android OS from Google (GOOG). Microsoft has gone all out to deliver a variety […]

Monday is D Day for Microsoft (MSFT), the much-anticipated launch of its new Windows Phone 7 platform.

The House That Gates Built has its sites on Apple (AAPL), the market leader with its iOS and iPhone and iPad, and the surging Android OS from Google (GOOG).

Microsoft has gone all out to deliver a variety of handsets.

Reviews of the phones keep coming in.

Washington Post tech columnist Rob Pegoraro reviews one of the first phones out of the box, the Samsung Focus from AT&T (T). He wasn’t impressed with battery life, which lasted only four hours with the screen lit and a web radio playing. He said the iPhone 4 and newer Androids last six or seven hours. However, he said the Focus’ standby battery life lasted two nights, better than Android.

He was surprised that the WP7 phone didn’t “handcuff” the user to Microsoft’s Outlook for contacts and calendars. The phone was open to Google’s Gmail and Google Calendar, “It’s an odd state of affairs when it’s easier to sync an iPhone than a Windows Phone to Outlook,” he said.

CNET reviewed the HTC HD7 from T-Mobile (DTEGY.PK), which has the largest screen among the WP7 phones: “The HD7, however, holds the distinction of having the largest display of any Windows Phone 7 handset in the U.S., and certainly the extra screen real estate plays well with the platform’s multimedia and gaming abilities. That said, it doesn’t have the crispness and vibrancy of some of the latest smartphone displays, and in general, we would have liked to see more improvements.”

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Gizmodo offers a breakdown of Windows Phone 7 choices.

Tall challenge to compete with the iPhone and Android devices

Can WP7 attract the lines and excitement generated by new iPhones? Windows fans don’t seem to be as dedicated as Apple’s, but we’ll see on Monday.

In any case, here’s a nagging question for Microsoft: Will there be WP7 handset shortages? It happened in Europe and likely will happen on this side on the pond.

The SeattlePI blog in MSFT’s backyard noted that because of manufacturing issues, mobile carriers in Europe have experienced shortages. “And the worldwide problem will likely affect Microsoft’s U.S. launch, which starts Monday,” the blog said.

Microsoft launched WP7 in Europe and Asia/Pacific on Oct. 21. Orange (ORNG.PK), the UK carrier, was running low on HTC 7 Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7.

What’s the problem? Some manufacturers responded to the recession by shutting down plants because they expected sales to slow. These decisions could lead to missed opportunities and disgruntled consumers not just for WP7 phones, but the competition as the crucial Christmas season arrives.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Marketplace for Mobile for WP7 (the store for apps) will launch with over 1,300 available. Seems puny against the 300,000 available from iPhone’s App Store and the 100,000 for Android. However, MSFT, with its game-industry connections, appears to be a player in the game category at least.

WashPo notes that apps for Amazon’s Kindle reader and Yelp soon will be onboard for WP7. But Pandora is taking a wait-and-see to see if demand materializes.

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ZDnet offers up its favorite apps for WP7.

An O’Reilly study found that Microsoft’s store has a strong showing for free titles. 22 percent of the titles are free there compared with ten percent at iPhone’s App Store.

Still, WP7 consumers likely will pay extra for titles: a mean price of $6.16 for WP7 titles compared with $3.47 for iPhone apps.

Ubergizmo notes that when the App Store first launched, high-end game titles were around $7-10, compared to those on other platforms which may be about $15-$30.

Higher revenue with WP7 might attract more developers.

As reported in this space last week, the State of the Apps Industry report found that developer interest in Windows Phone 7 outpaced that for iPhone. However, their interest in Android apps was even greater.

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