By Adam Dickter / Mobile Tech Today. Updated December 22, 2010.
Smartphones powered by Microsoft's newest mobile operating system may find their way into Verizon Wireless stores in the very near future, judging from some apps that have been discovered on the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.
Some searchers noticed My Verizon Mobile, Netflix for Verizon, and Slacker Radio in the online app store and alerted a blog that focuses on Windows phones. WMPoweruser said the apps are likely a signal that a CDMA-capable Phone 7 device may be available from the nation's top carrier as soon as next month rather than mid-2011 as Verizon said earlier.
Microsoft currently has distribution deals only with AT&T and T-Mobile. In a Q and A on the company blog Tuesday, Vice President Achim Berg said Microsoft's manufacturing partners -- Samsung, Dell, HTC and LG -- shipped 1.5 million Phone 7 devices to retailers in 30 countries in six weeks. "We're in the race," Berg said. "It's not a sprint, but we are certainly gaining momentum and we're in it for the long run."
Verizon Phone 7 devices -- the first of which is expected to be the HTC Trophy -- would serve the goals of both companies well. Microsoft desperately needs to boost its dismal share of the smartphone market as Google's Android and Apple's iOS increasingly dominate, and Verizon needs a larger variety of offerings to avoid being pegged as the Android carrier. Although it carries phones powered by Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS, Nokia's Symbian, and HP-Palm's webOS, the company has gone all-out to promote its top-selling Android devices, particularly the three Droid phones.
Kirk Parsons, a wireless analyst at J.D. Power and Associates, said it's likely that a Phone 7 device will be on Verizon's shelves in the first quarter of 2011.
"It's good news for Microsoft to increase their share," said Parsons. "How much [that will be] is yet to be determined, depending on how much Verizon Wireless is willing to spend and support" those models.
That question is crucial, since Verizon is also widely expected to launch a version of Apple's iPhone early next year, and the first round of high-speed LTE-compatible smartphones at the same time, raising the possibility that any Phone 7 devices will be lost in the shuffle. Verizon, however, would then be able to boast of having devices powered by all the leading operating systems, as AT&T can now.
The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace now has about 4,000 apps, and Berg said 18,000 developers have signed on to create more.
The My Verizon Mobile app gives users personal information about their accounts, including the latest usage for minutes, messages and data, and allows them to manage account payments and view current plan information. Slacker Radio allows the user to access 130 programmed stations or personalize playlists.