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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.

Category: Mobile
January 14, 2015 at 9:07 AM

Microsoft launches two budget Lumia smartphones

Microsoft's Lumia 435 (Photo by Microsoft)

Microsoft’s Lumia 435 (Photo by Microsoft)

Microsoft continues to hammer away at the cheaper side of the market in its bid to grab smartphone market share.

The company Wednesday announced two new smartphones — the Lumia 532 and 435 — designed to target first-time smartphone buyers. The 532 is expected to sell for 79 euros ($93) before taxes and subsidies, and the 435 is expected to start at 69 euros ($81).

Microsoft’s use of the European common currency for its price listing isn’t a coincidence: don’t expect the phones on store shelves in the U.S. soon. The company said it will start rolling out the phones in markets in Europe, Asia and Africa next month.

Microsoft, badly lagging and losing share in developed markets like the U.S. and western Europe, has staked its claim for relevance in smartphones in the developing world. By offering reasonably priced phones that offer smartphone features, Microsoft is hoping that it can persuade basic cellphone users to upgrade to a Windows Phone smartphone instead of devices running Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS.

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Comments | More in Mobile | Topics: lumia, lumia 435, lumia 532

January 7, 2015 at 11:07 AM

iPhone 6 boosts Apple at the expense of Google, Microsoft

How successful has the iPhone 6 been? Apple’s new flagship blew past not only Microsoft’s struggling smartphone unit, but also helped push Google’s Android to its first setback in the U.S. in more than a year.

Apple’s iOS powered 47 percent of the smartphones sold in the U.S. during the three months through November, according to data researcher Kantar Worldpanel’s ComTech division, from 43 percent a year earlier.

The share of smartphones that run Google’s Android fell to 48 percent of sales from 50 perecent, the first decline since September 2013.

Windows Phone fell to 3 percent, from 4.6 percent.

Things don’t look much better for Microsoft internationally, despite the larger footprint Nokia has historically had outside the U.S.

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Comments | More in Mobile | Topics: apple, google, microsoft

January 5, 2015 at 8:16 AM

Microsoft Nokia 215, at $29, targets new internet users

The Nokia 215 (Photo: Microsoft)

The Nokia 215 (Photo: Microsoft)

Microsoft, facing an uphill battle in the fiercely competitive U.S. and European smartphone markets, continues to target consumers not ready to pay for a powerhouse device.

The company on Monday unveiled the Nokia 215, an internet-capable basic phone at prices starting at just $29.

Microsoft said the phone will be available in select markets in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe (so, candidates include the entire world save the Americas) in the first three months of 2015.

“We see an inspiring opportunity to connect the next billion people to the Internet for the first time,” Jo Harlow, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices Group, said.

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Comments | More in Mobile | Topics: Lumia 535, nokia, nokia 215

December 29, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Apple trounces Samsung, Microsoft in Christmas smartphone, tablet activations

If you turned on a new smartphone or tablet in the week leading up to Christmas, chances are it was built built by Apple.

That’s according to a report by mobile analytics firm Flurry, which said the California giant accounted for fully 51.3% of the devices activated worldwide Dec. 19-25. Samsung came in second with a 17.7% share. Microsoft’s Nokia (or Lumia, after the ongoing rebranding) was third, with 5.8%.

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Comments | Topics: apple, microsoft, samsung

December 2, 2014 at 7:00 AM

IDC sees Windows Phone share doubling, but behind Google, Apple

IDC has good news and bad news for Microsoft’s smartphone ambitions.

First, the bad news: four years from now, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS will still be eating Microsoft’s lunch in the smartphone market.

The Windows Phone operating system will account for just 5.6 percent of global smartphone sales in 2018, IDC said Monday in the data researcher’s latest forecast. That’s well short of the 15 percent share Microsoft executives said they were shooting for when they bought Nokia’s handset business last year.

The good news: 5.6 percent represents a near doubling from the 2.7 percent share IDC currently estimates for Microsoft. Getting there assumes an annual growth rate of north of 3 percent every year.

The question is whether that growth will be enough to push the phone hardware business from a cash-burning former acquisition to a profitable unit with a long-term place in Microsoft’s lineup of products. Microsoft executives have said they hope to have the phone business, the target of hefty cost cuts and layoffs this year, at least breaking even in the fiscal year that starts next July.

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Comments | More in Mobile | Topics: idc, microsoft, smartphone

November 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM

India on tap as first market for Microsoft Lumia 535

Microsoft is poised to use India as the launch pad for its first post-Nokia smartphone, the budget-priced Lumia 535.

The company’s Indian unit teased a Nov. 26 event, featuring copious references to the number five –a key piece of its branding on the device announced earlier this month. The Lumia 535 will be the first phone to carry the Microsoft Lumia — rather than Nokia — name after Microsoft bought Nokia’s handset business earlier this year.

Some in the tech blogosphere have criticized Microsoft for not featuring an obvious flagship Windows phone device to go toe-to-toe with the newer high-end phones running on Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating system.

The Lumia 535 (Photo: Microsoft)

The Lumia 535 (Photo: Microsoft)

In making its first Microsoft-branded smartphone relatively cheap ($137 before market- and vendor-related adjustments or discounts), the post-Nokia strategy may instead be to try to capture the new smartphone consumers in emerging markets. It also could be a play to defend market share in one of Nokia’s historic strong points: among international buyers of budget phones. 

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Comments | More in Mobile | Topics: Lumia 535, microsoft, windows phone

November 6, 2014 at 9:18 AM

Microsoft offers Office free for Apple, Android mobile devices

Microsoft says it will offer its Office franchise free to some mobile customers, its latest effort to keep customers using its products in a less PC-dependent world.

Microsoft broke with longstanding tradition in March, announcing it would make the Office suite of word processing and productivity software available for the first time on Apple’s iPad.

Starting Thursday, users of iPhones, iPads can create and edit Office documents without a subscription to Microsoft’s paid Office 365 service, the company said. Similar service for Google’s Android tablets is in the works.

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Comments | More in Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mobile, Office

June 15, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Microsoft news roundup: Bill Gates tie-less, cell phones cut, Google on Bing

Some bits and bytes on Microsoft from around the country: New York Post says Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin has a team of engineers dissecting Bing, Microsoft’s newly upgraded search engine. Early data after Bing’s launch at the beginning of June show that traffic numbers have improved for Microsoft’s search operation. MocoNews says Microsoft has stopped…

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Comments | More in Bill Gates, Bing, Employee benefits, Google, Microsoft, Mobile, News roundup, Windows Mobile

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