(This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times on Oct. 25, 2011. – Janet I. Tu)
Sure, there have been announcements already about Windows Phone handsets coming from the likes of HTC, Samsung and LG.
But what some Microsoft watchers are keeping a sharp eye on are the announcements that will be coming from Nokia World in London this week.
Nokia, the Finnish company that’s the world’s largest phone maker by units, has bet all its chips on Microsoft, saying earlier this year that it would be using Windows Phone on all its smartphones going forward. Microsoft, in the meantime, is counting on Nokia to make the Windows Phone operating system a serious contender in the global smartphone market.
On Wednesday, at its annual conference, Nokia is expected to unveil its first Windows Phones. For Nokia, which has seen its place in the smartphone market overtaken by Android phones, Wednesday marks the beginning of a chance to prove that new CEO (and former Microsoft executive) Stephen Elop was right in deciding to partner with Microsoft and a chance to prevent Nokia’s market share from eroding further.
Its share of the global smartphone market has plunged. It suffered a third-quarter net loss of $94 million (though less than expected), had a second-quarter net loss of $512 million; and announced 10,000 layoffs this year.
For Microsoft, which has had a hard time gaining traction in the smartphone market, Nokia’s worldwide reach is a chance to clamber out from behind the shadows of Android, Apple and Research In Motion.
“This is what could make the difference from Windows Phone becoming an also-ran or being a solid No. 3 and making its way to No. 2 in coming years,” said Rob Sanfilippo, a research vice president with the independent analysis firm Directions on Microsoft.