Windows Phone 7 Dealt Blow by Verizon

Verizon, America’s largest mobile network will not be offering it’s customers handsets based on windows phone 7 on it’s forthcoming 4G network.

The unusually blunt statement from Verizon chief operations officer Lowell McAdam  came during and interview with CNET at the CTIA trade show in SanFrancisco last week.

McAdam said: “I can’t really say which phones we’ll offer yet. We like our relationship with Microsoft. But clearly in the US there are three major mobile operating systems: RIM, Google, and Apple.”

When asked if Microsoft was a major player in the mobile phone market he didn’t pull any punches : – “No, not at the moment. Microsoft is not at the forefront of our mind.”

McAdam didn’t expressly say why Verizon would not be offering Windows 7 phones, but reading between the lines a little it seems clear that they don’t view Windows Phone 7 as innovative or cutting edge, he said of handsets in general:  “If they are not leading edge, then we can’t afford to carry them in our stores. ”

Microsoft are due to officially announce the lineup of Windows 7 handsets at an event in New York later today, but photos of a Windows 7 HTC phone, dubbed Schubert, have been leaked ahead of the event and appear to show T-Mobile branding, which begins to answer the question of which retailers will carry Windows 7 handsets?

To gain any appreciable foot hold in the smartphone market Microsoft need to persuade networks to carry their handsets and consumers to buy them, no mean feat considering the competition and the nasty taste left by Microsoft’s Kin social phone. What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? Kin was hyped, launched and pulled earlier this year after it failed to sell in anything like the numbers expected.

The Kin was an episode in which Microsoft tried to jump on a whole train of bandwagons  – late – and didn’t make it. (Do you remember the Microsoft  Zune? No? ) I cant help thinking that maybe Microsoft have pulled the same trick with Windows Pone 7, arriving late to a marketplace with a me-too product.

Windows Phone 7 has minimum hardware requirements that are not quite as hardcore as the forthcoming Android 3.0, but more so than android 2.1/2.2. I think this is a bit odd, they’ve effectively kept Windows Phone 7 out of the emerging budget smartphone market (think Orange San Francisco) but not gone the whole hog and pitched at the very top end.

I could be wrong, perhaps Windows Phone 7 will enjoy the runaway success that Microsoft enjoyed with the Xbox 360, but then again they got to that market early with a top end, innovative product and only really had one serious competitor. The one big gun in Windows Phone 7’s arsenal is familiarity, almost everyone knows Windows as the OS running their PC, so users looking for their first smartphone may be tempted by the idea of an OS they already know. But familiarity may breed contempt,  memories of slow downs during basic tasks a-la Vista, security worries, constant updates or  blue screens may well put people off whether Windows Phone 7 is any good or not.

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