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Nervous, Nokia? Microsoft tests own smartphone

PLUS: Telecom, Vodafone, 2degrees confirm Windows Phone 8 handsets.

NBR staff
Sun, 04 Nov 2012

Microsoft is working with Asian component suppliers to test its own smartphone design, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The company released its own tablet, the Microsoft Surface, as part of its Windows 8 push (NZ release dates have yet to be announced).

But at the launch of its latest cellphone software, on Tuesday NZ time, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made no mention of a house-brand smartphone as he showed of handsets from Windows Phone 8 partners Nokia, Samsung and HTC (Telecom has confirmed to NBR it will stock three models by Christmas - the Nokia Lumia 920, the Samsung ATIV S and the HTC 8S. Vodafone and 2degrees said they would also carry Windows Phone 8 handsets by Christmas but did not detail models).

The Journal quotes a source close to the project who says the proposed Microsoft smartphone has a four-inch display. The company has yet to decide whether to the product will go into mass production.

In an interview with the paper, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer refused to comment on whether his company would make its own smartphone.

"We're quite happy this holiday [season] going to market hard with Nokia, Samsung and HTC," said Mr. Ballmer.

"Whether we had a plan to do something different or we didn't have a plan I wouldn't comment in any dimension."

If it does produce its own smartphone, Microsoft will be walking a thin line. The move would give the company total control over its own handsets, as Apple has with the iPhone, and Google with its house-brand Nexus (and newly acquired Motorola Mobility). But it would also risk alienating key partner Nokia, plus Samsung and HTC. 

While Nokia has put most of its eggs in the Microsoft basket, Samsung and HTC are enjoying strong sales for their Google Android-based models.

NBR staff
Sun, 04 Nov 2012
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Nervous, Nokia? Microsoft tests own smartphone