Those who went to gdgt’s live Seattle event Friday evening at the Showbox SoDo got a look at some of the main features of the updated Windows Phone, code-named Mango. (Clarification added 8/9: Microsoft spokespeople at the event demonstrated Mango on their phones, which had the updated version. The phones on the display table did not have Mango on them.)
The latest version of Windows Phone, expected to come out this fall, boasts deeper integration of various Microsoft products, including search engine Bing, Web browser Internet Explorer, office desktop applications Office and video game console Xbox.
A search for a specific movie, for instance, can bring up not only websites about the movie, but connect directly to the phone’s IMDb app, which can play the movie’s trailer. Scanning the title of a book, via the phone’s camera, can forge a connection to the phone’s Kindle app to download the book to be read on the phone.
It’s Microsoft’s bid for a larger share of the smartphone market that has been dominated by Google’s Android-platform phones and Apple’s iPhones.
Data released earlier this week by comScore, which measures the digital market, showed that though Microsoft’s share of the U.S. smartphone market was down 1.7 percent from 7.5 percent in March, it has leveled off with 5.8 percent of the market in June – the same as in May. (Those figures include both Windows Phone and its predecessor, Windows Mobile.)
Still, even Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said at the Worldwide Partners Conference in July that Windows Phone sales have gone from “very small to very small.”
So hopes are high for the Mango update, which is expected to be ready this fall on new phones and via a software upgrade on existing Windows Phones. Both Microsoft and Nokia, the Finnish phone-making giant that saw Apple overtake it as the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer in August, have a lot riding on the update. Earlier this year, they reached an agreement for Windows Phone 7 to be the primary operating system for Nokia’s smartphones.
This was second live event in Seattle for gdgt, an online community for gadget enthusiasts. It holds about a dozen such live events around the country each year, giving gadget fans an opportunity to see what’s coming from companies like Roku, AT&T and Lenovo.
(Photo of Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft. Photo of Andy Colley, with Microsoft’s Windows Phone Marketing, holding a Windows Phone “Mango” at gdgt’s live Seattle event, by Janet I. Tu)