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Microsoft continues experimentation in effort to build Windows Phone marketshare

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Looking to correct a decade of failure in mobile, Microsoft is moving further and further away from the business model that established its dominance in the PC world. No longer a pure software and services provider, Microsoft now makes its own tablets and purchased Nokia to manufacture smartphones, realizing that it could not solely trust 3rd party OEMs to produce ‘high end’ Windows hardware. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft has not stopped at simply conceding to Google and Apple’s business model, choosing instead to pursue some rather inspired experiments to grow Windows Phone’s meagre marketshare.

The Times of India is reporting that Microsoft will waive Windows Phone licensing fees for two Indian manufacturers, Karbonn and Lava, a move that has been long rumoured. The deal is an obvious move to compete against Google in emerging markets, as both manufacturers currently create low-end Android smartphones, and could save them somewhere between $5 and $15 per smartphone.

The Times is also reporting that at the very least Karbonn will manufacture a dual-boot smartphone offering both Windows Phone and Android. Taken with Nokia’s recently announced Nokia X line of Android smartphones, it appears that Microsoft is willing to let manufacturers play with Android in order to build adoption for Microsoft’s services, which, in theory, will lead to greater purchase intent for Windows Phone devices (hey, it worked for Google).

Even more surprising is the news that Microsoft is willing to allow this co-mingling in North America. Shao Yang, Huawei’s CMO recently told Trusted Reviews that the company is planning to release a dual-boot smartphone in North America this year. “With Windows Phone, one direction for us – and one that we are now following – is dual OS. Dual OS as in Android and Windows together,” Yang said.

The Huawei dual-boot phone is set for launch in the US (and maybe Canada too?) in Q2, supposedly around the same time as the Windows Phone 8.1 release. It will be interesting to see if the 8.1 release will feature any other peculiarities, or if Microsoft wants to keep its experimentation tightly controlled (for now).

  • Hilman in Edmonton

    Yes Microsoft, that $5-15 extra fee is the reason why other manufacturers and consumers don’t want your phones.

    • Tyhudg

      WP is actually pretty good, very well regarded among reviewers and among the highest customer satisfaction. But you wouldn’t know that because you have never actually used one before ;)

    • Hilman in Edmonton

      Me never using one or their apparent high customer satisfaction has nothing to do with my comment or their anemic sales. If you or MS think that removing the $5-15 fee for the OS will dramatically help sales then you (and MS) are delusional.

      MS has spent a massive amount of money on marketing WP and it has a whopping 3% of the worldwide market share (which are mostly ultra cheap 520′s), pretty pathetic considering it has been out since 2010. I think MS is finally seeing the writing on the wall and is why the Nokia X and dual OS phones are now being thrown out there. When will WP fans get their heads out of the sand???

    • Shoey5

      $5-$15 is huge in the world of mass production and a companies bottom line. I think it’s more than $5-$15 though.
      In regards to delusional, I think that more applies to you than MS….

    • Tsordi

      Waiving the fee is more about attracting third-party manufacturers. Android doesn’t charge one, which is part of the reason it’s been able to attract so many hardware partners and flood the market. And at least in the early days, flooding the market had more to do with Android’s success than the quality of the OS.

    • Salinger

      I think the point is, MS is trying to break into the (very) low-end market in emerging markets. It’s not so much to do with the retail price for users, it’s about profit margins OEM’s make on handsets. With super low-end handsets, $15 could well be the difference between making a handset fairly profitable vs not worth manufacturing. By eliminating the fee, OEM’s profit is all their own and might be enough for them to pique their interest.

  • Rich

    Really felt BlackBerry was on the right track in terms of being cross compatible with Android apps — they just failed in other areas. It almost feels hopeless for Windows Phone in terms of trying to lure developers, manufacturers, and trying to gain market share.

    As far as I’m concerned, Microsoft/Nokia only been breaking ground on the low end smartphone market, but realistically I don’t think these are the types of users to spend (much) money on apps or offer much incentive for premium manufacturers to jump on board. Even with Android hardware saturation reaching such a heavy point, there’s still some money to be made there.

    • Tyhudg

      The majority of android is on low end devices as well and that is how Android controls the global market share by a considerable margin. Android did not take off with high end devices, it took off with low cost phones in densely populated, low income markets. I will agree that buyers of low end smartphones will spend less on apps, but that is irrelevant here. Trying to gain marketshare any other way is just a waste of time.

    • Tyhudg

      The majority of android is on low end devices as well and that is how Android controls the global market share by a considerable margin. Android did not take off with high end devices, it took off with low cost phones in densely populated, low income markets. I will agree that buyers of low end smartphones will spend less on apps, but that is irrelevant here. Trying to gain marketshare any other way is just a waste of time.

    • Martin Chan

      Some truth right there. The OS of choice for no brand or counterfeit phones is Android.

    • Shoey5

      Has it’s downsides though, I know a lot of people that got turned off on Android because of low costing crap phones….

  • Shoey5

    My understanding is they are modelling their price after target SRP. Ie, Phone or Tablet in a certain price range, no cost to license the OS, higher price device, a cost, even higher SRP a bigger cost. That would make more sense, kind of like their Server licenses, more features at a higher cost but the option to pay less if you don’t need or plan to use those features….

  • saqrkh

    Microsoft’s also trying to get people to simply *try* Windows Phone. One of the biggest challenges this platform has to overcome is getting more people to try out WP.

    When you have ill-informed perceptions and biases floating about (especially from carrier reps), that “trying out” part is extremely difficult to achieve. I guess dual-booting gives Microsoft the leverage to get WP into the hands of more normal people.

  • Sweet

    Nah, I don’t see dual-boot taking off. Many years ago, I used dual-boot on my PCs for many years, and it’s a hassle — I’m assuming the reboot time will be far from trivial. You do some tasks in one OS, then have to reboot your device to perform other tasks. IMO, a better solution would be to run Android in a VM. But such a phone would need more memory and a better CPU.

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