Windows Phone: More High-End Devices Coming Soon - InformationWeek

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Windows Phone: More High-End Devices Coming Soon

As Windows Phone loses market share, Microsoft exec says HTC One (M8) and other new flagship devices could bolster demand.

Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
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Times are tough for Windows Phone -- so tough that more than a few commentators have already suggested Microsoft should just throw in the towel. But with renewed support from hardware partners, Microsoft leaders still believe Windows Phone can succeed, especially as new devices fill out the lineup.

Since last spring, Microsoft execs have framed their Windows Phone strategy around low-cost devices for emerging markets. This month, however, HTC released a Windows Phone 8.1 version of its One (M8) flagship, which was previously an Android exclusive. Microsoft, currently reorganizing what's left of its Nokia acquisition, is expected to release mid- to high-end Lumia devices in coming weeks.

[Is Amazon's first smartphone a flop? Read Amazon Fire Phone Slow To Ignite.]

If Windows Phone is to grow in emerging markets it needs these higher-end models to set the tone, Windows Phone director Greg Sullivan told InformationWeek in an interview. "Flagship devices help define a platform, create awareness and desire," he said, adding that in markets where Microsoft advertises high-end devices on television, sales of lower-end devices tend to spike.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, these spikes haven't yet added up to much. Earlier this year, Microsoft leaders touted Windows Phone's growth in emerging markets, pointing out that its platform's share even surpassed iPhones' share in certain regions. But according to research firm IDC, this momentum stalled in the most recent quarter; Windows Phone OEMs shipped fewer devices than they had in the year-ago period, and the mobile OS's market share fell to only 2.5%, down almost a full percentage point from the quarter before.

Given this dismal outlook, it makes sense that Microsoft is focused on emerging markets. "We want to go where the growth is," said Sullivan.

To make headway, the company has attempted to re-energize its hardware partners, most of which had left Windows Phone for dead at this point last year. Microsoft established a service portal to help regional OEMs support Windows Phone, for instance. The company also relaxed the OS's hardware requirements and did more to push the company's vision through software, Sullivan said.

He pointed out that previously Windows Phones had to have physical keys, but everything can now be done

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2014 | 11:50:25 AM
Solid, indestructible and, best of all, cheap
I bought my son a Nokia Windows-based smartphone on a pay-per-month (AT&T) plan and couldn't be happier. It was only $49, the service is $25 per month and my son says the Nokia device is "indestructible." He has dropped it several times (even without the cover), and unlike the two Apple iTouches we've owned that have suffered cracked screens, this thing takes a licking. I hope Microsoft keeps those phones alive, if only to keep things competitive and costs down.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
8/25/2014 | 1:23:52 PM
Re: High end?
I don't think the typical Jane or Joe Consumer has much opinion on Microsoft vs. Google vs. Apple. That's inside baseball, as they say. They care about apps, camera, cost, and what their friends are carrying.

If Microsoft were smart, it would make a phone optimized for college students then push it hard to students seen as 'influencers,' or whatever the current term is, even subsidizing data plans if needed for top trendsetters. Keds sneakers did it, certain beer brands do it. Not hard to see a phone following suit.
Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/23/2014 | 3:48:13 PM
Windows Phone 8.1
Have any readers been using Windows Phone 8.1?

I've had the chance to use the HTC One (M8) with Windows Phone 8.1 for the last few days, and though I'm still forming opinions, I think the OS is much improved, and that HTC's hardware is pretty nice, but not as ergonomically pleasing as an iPhone. I'm curious to see what future high-end Lumias will look like, now that Microsoft is running the show.
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