Microsoft on Wednesday launched its Windows Phone platform in India, hoping to take on Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android devices in the highly lucrative and crucial smartphone market. The company said that its smartphones-made by hardware partners like HTC, Samsung, Acer and Nokia-will run on Windows Phone 7.5, also called Mango.
“We are excited about today’s unveiling of Windows Phone. With Windows Phone, we have looked at the consumer experience in an absolutely fresh way, and the end result is an operating system that is stylish and innovative,” said Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman at Microsoft India. Unlike Android and Apple’s iOS, Mango uses an interface based on ‘live tiles’ instead of icons.
Microsoft, which was once a major player in smartphone market with its Windows Mobile operating software, had lost ground after Apple and Google entered the market in 2007 and 2008. According to a Gartner report in August, the company had just 1.6% share in the worldwide market for smartphones in Q2, 2011.
Windows Phone 7.5 is a new beginning for Microsoft in smartphone industry. We have overhauled and re-imagined our mobile operating software with Mango. It’s a complete redesign,” Vikas Arora, group director and the person responsible for Windows Phone in India, told TOI.
According to Anshul Gupta, Gartner’s principal research analyst, smartphone market is growing in India at the rate of 35% every year. He said last year around 9 million smartphones were shipped in India, a number that is expected to rise to around 13 million this year. Symbian, despite a slump in sale, continues to be the leading smartphone platform followed by Research In Motions’ BlackBerry and Google’s Android.
To make a mark in the market, Microsoft is heavily betting on its relationship with Nokia, especially in countries like India. “We don’t have a carrier-controlled market the way it is in the US. Hence, Nokia’s distribution reach and supply chain can play an important role in India,” said Gupta. Earlier this year, Nokia had abandoned its own smartphone platform – Meego-and decided to use Windows Phone in its devices. The Finnish company is likely phase out Symbian operating software from its Phones by 2016.
Gupta said that the success of Windows Phone platform will be determined by the quality of app ecosystem and price points. “It is the ecosystem and quality of apps that has made Android and iOS such big success. Microsoft too will have to offer similar experience to users. As far as lower price points are concerned, Nokia’s manufacturing prowess and ability to move a large number of handset may come handy,” he said.