Microsoft is slated to launch its much talked-about Windows Phone 7 operating system in India at the second edition of UnPluggd, an event for local startups, in Bangalore.
Microsoft has completely made a new start Windows Phone 7. Its just-discarded mobile OS, Windows Mobile 6.5.3, had seriously gone long in the tooth. First, it was Apple which showed everyone how outdated and unsophisticated it was with iOS and iPhones. Then came Android, Google’s entry into the smartphone OS space. Being free, it quickly picked up as a more open alternative to the walled garden of iOS and Phone. Microsoft is late to the party alright, but remember this is Microsoft, and whenever they have felt really threatened, they were perfectly willing to throw major marketing muscle and money at problems.
Android currently is growing extremely fast, and not just in the US. Cheap Android phones are being introduced prce-sensitive markets of Asia and Africa – something which expensive iPhones cannot do. Here is our list of Android smartphones in India.
In this context, Microsoft’s decision to launch Windows Phone 7 in India so quickly after its launch in US is intriguing. Would they be able to put up a fight in India?
First, let us look at the information that is available about the upcoming launch of Windows Phone 7 in India. Developers can create applications sell them, or offer them free through Microsoft’s App Marketplace after they register for a fee of $100 – but app developers who show up at Unpluggd will get free passes for Marketplace.
These passes will allow them to bypass the credit-card entry section on the AppHub website and they will directly be able to register to sell their products through Marketplace to Windows Phone 7 users around the world.
People who want to attend Unpluggd, though, need to register to do so. Microsoft, along with various phone manufacturers, will also showcase some of the smartphones that run on the new operating system.
What has kickstarted the Android market in India are the super-cheap Android phones. Nowadays, for pretty much the price of a top feature-phone, you could pick up an Android device in India. iPhones, even the last generation 3GS models, cost above Rs 30,000 here. It is no contest, then.
But Microsoft is likely to face its first hurdle here. Windows Phone cell phones have high-end specifications, so how will they keep prices low to make them popular in India?
This will be a touch challenge for Microsoft, for sure. If they price them similar to how they would priced in US without contracts, they would be at the very top of the smartphone market in India – and sell very few units. Are Microsoft’s amibtions for Windows Phone 7 in India so limited?
Or, they could try and do what Apple may be planning – introduce phones on contract. Yes, rumors are that CDMA iPhones would come to Tata and Reliance on contract. This would ensure that initial prices remain low, while the buyer is bound by a one or two year contract.
That, definitely, is one way out for Microsoft. The alternative would be to limit themselves to the top-end of the market, and price their Windows Phone 7 smartphones out of almost everybody’s reach. Well, all we have to do is to wait for the actual launch!
These WP7 phones haven’t yet been announced for the Indian market, though quite a few of them are slated for international launch – including in the US. The new Windows Phone 7 cell phones launched in the US, which are likely to cost typically around $200, include:
HTC’s HD7 is a Windows Phone 7 smartphone available with T-Mobile in the US, O2 in the UK and Telstra in Australia. The phone will be available around mid November in the US and a little before that in Europe.
The HD7 has a 4.3-inch WVGA TFT screen that offers a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8250 chipset, and gives you 576MB of RAM. The device comes with a 5-megapixel camera. The phone is rather similar to the HD2, albeit with the ability to record 720p high definition video at 24 frames per second. The phone has 16GB of memory, and offers built-in apps for Netflix, T-Mobile TV, etc.
HTC has a major presence in India, and now have a wide range of Android phones. They might decide to bring this excellent Windows Phone 7 device to India.
HTC Surround is yet another Windows Phone 7 device, which is available with AT&T in the US and Telus in Canada. In the US, it will cost about $200 with goodies and a two-year contract.
The phone has some interesting hardware features such as a kickstand and a speaker that slides out from under the device. The Surround sports a 3.8-inch WVGA display and has a similar processor from Snapdragon as the HD7. The phone is different from the HD7 because it offers Dolby Mobile and SRS surround sound. So, this might be the one handset for audiophiles looking for great music capability on the move.
Music aficionados in India would be thrilled if Microsoft launches this smartphone in India.
The HTC Mozart and 7 Trophy will be out in October. These two Windows 7 devices are very similar to the HTC Surround and HD7. The Mozart has a 3.7-inch display and an 8-megapixel camera with xenon flash, while the Trophy offers you a 5-megapixel camera and is going to be the cheapest WP7 phone from HTC (or, so the company says).
HTC 7 Trophy will be available in the UK on Vodafone’s network, while the Mozart will be sold through Orange in the UK and some other European markets. Neither handset is slated for release in the US though.
The HTC 7 Pro will be available through Sprint in the US early next year. The phone has a tilting screen. Its touchscreen slides back and snaps into place so that the device takes the form of a mini laptop. It has a five-row QWERTY keyboard in landscape format.
Dell’s Venue Pro runs Windows Phone 7. It will be available from T-Mobile in the US this holiday season. Expect a 4.1-inch touchscreen that displays a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. You will also find a 5-megapixel HD camera. The phone has a QWERTY keyboard, but in portrait format so you can hold the handset and type with one hand. The Venue Pro, in all likelihoods, will be the first of many WP7 devices to be made by Dell. The company hasn’t yet revealed how much the phone will cost.
LG, too, has entered the Windows Phone 7 market with its Quantum device for the US and Optimus 7 for Europe and the rest of the world. The Quantum will be available in the US with AT&T for $200.
The two phones have the usual Windows Phone 7 features – 1GHz chip, 8 or 16GB memory, a 5-megapixel camera, HD video recording and playing capabilities, etc.
The Optimus is meant for entertainment, while Quantum is for business users. The key feature of these phones is apparently their ability to transfer media to computers, HD TVs and other devices nearby.
Finally, we have Samsung’s Cetus smartphone, which recently debuted on – guess what? – Windows Phone 7 OS. It seems that the South Korean consumer electronics company has renamed the Cetus to Samsung Focus and has also launched the Omnia 7. The Focus has a 4-inch WVGA screen and gives you the usual Windows Phone 7 specs. It will be available with AT&T in the US, while the Omnia 7 will be available in Europe with T-Mobile, Orange, SFR and Movistar.