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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

October 2, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Is Microsoft about to reveal its own branded smartphones?

Rumors have been growing stronger this week that Microsoft may be making its own branded Windows Phone devices, similar to the way the company revealed its own branded Surface tablets. (Surface phone, anyone?)

The website Boy Genius Report cites an unnamed “trusted source” who “informed BGR several weeks ago that Microsoft is quietly working on an own-brand smartphone that will compete directly with high-end devices like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III, and also with Windows Phones built by its own vendor partners, of course. Our source declined to provide any details beyond the fact that the handset is in the late stages of development and will launch in the coming months.”

The website Windows Phone Central, meanwhile, cites an unnamed, “known to us” source when it says: “Information has come forward to Windows Phone Central that demonstrates Microsoft does have their own Windows Phone hardware in the works; in fact, we’ve heard it already exists and is in testing.”

Microsoft is playing coy, issuing a statement that neither confirms nor denies the rumors.

“We are big believers in our hardware partners and together we’re focused on bringing Windows Phone 8 to market with them,” the company’s statement says.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said she’s skeptical of the rumors.

“This seems to be a recurrent rumor started after the tablet was announced,” she said. “I still do not believe that Microsoft needs to have a phone when it can get Nokia and now HTC and Samsung to deliver.”

With tablets, MIlanesi said, Microsoft had to demonstrate to manufacturers the type of device that would best serve the Windows 8 user interface. But it’s a different situation with smartphones.

“I do not see what Microsoft would gain or be able to deliver through their own phone that they cannot do with their partners,” she said. “The last time they tried to make a phone it did not last a quarter in the market, since the competitive environment has got worse, not better.”

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