Tired of hearing about the success of Apple’s iPhone and devices powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system, Microsoft and Nokia are reportedly considering a partnership aimed at cutting into Apple, Google and Research In Motion's growing uses bases. For the moment, their strategy appears to be working – at least in sparking conversation – based on Google Realtime search results for “Windows Phone 7” which demonstrated considerable interest in the rumor early Friday morning.
Arming Nokia handsets with Windows Phone 7 would lead to a formidable partnership, especially if Microsoft manages to draw a substantial user base. Currently, the software company is mired at the bottom of the smartphone OS customer share rankings. According to market research firm Canalys, Microsoft accounted for 3.1 percent of global smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2010. Canalys concluded that Windows Phone 7’s October 11 arrival was too late to capitalize on the mobile fervor of the 2010 holiday shopping season.
The numbers coming from anywhere but Redmond paint a very poor picture for Windows Phone 7. In January, the company stated it shipped more than 2 million handsets equipped with its new OS. However, sales of the devices have remained laggard.
Conversely, Apple’s move to Verizon has further cemented the company’s status as the leader among mobile service providers – even as Canalys’ study found Android to be the leading mobile OS in terms of fourth quarter shipments, boasting 32.9 percent of total smartphone shipments between October and December. Verizon CEO Dan Mead reported on Thursday that the “Verizon iPhone” produced the strongest first day sales of any product in the company’s history. Mead did not reveal any specific numbers, but the company stopped pre-orders for the time being. Customers who did not pre-order the device will have to wait until February 10, when Verizon will begin selling the iPhone in its stores.
This week yielded positive results for other Apple products, too. On Tuesday, Apple and Newscorp announced The Daily, a newspaper designed specifically for the Apple iPad. The Daily will be available for 99 cents per week or $40 per year for iPad users. Newscorp has hired a complete staff to fill The Daily with “more than 100 pages of fresh content” every day. While it’s impossible to tell if The Daily will succeed, estimates show it may require more than 500,000 subscribers to avoid losing money.
The presence of a news service dedicated solely to the iPad is just another feature likely to help the iPad keep its lead in the tablet market. However, Android is aggressively attempting to add to its market share. Google unveiled Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb, on Wednesday. The company has drawn some criticism, however, for releasing tablets on older versions of Android. For example, the popular Samsung Galaxy Tab runs Android 2.2 at the moment, and Google has not reported whether or not an update will be available.
Even with the potential investment products that may quickly become obsolete, social media and Google search users researched and mentioned Google's tablet devices frequently throughout the week, according to Google Realtime search results for “Android Honeycomb.”
Android expanded its offerings in the smartphone market as well this week. On Thursday, T-Mobile announced the HTC Pyramid, which will run Android, will be available for users in May.
HTC received more good news late last week with a report from research firm Robert W. Baird, which found HTC, along with rival Apple, was among the most successful handset manufacturers last year. The Pyramid will likely add to HTC’s recent run of success. For T-Mobile, however, the news dovetails perfectly with a report from J.D. Power and Associates, which found the company is the leader in customer service and satisfaction among mobile service providers. With the industry average at 739, T-Mobile scored a 758 on J.D. Power’s scale.
Not to be outdone by its competitors, AT&T made a pair of announcements this week – one for iPhone users and another for Android-based smartphone users. For AT&T’s iPhone users, WiFi tethering will be available for use on personal hot spots when upgrading to iOS 4.3. Many experts expect AT&T users to make several announcements in the coming weeks and months aimed at preventing customers from migrating to Verizon. The company also announced the availability of the Motorola Atrix, yet another Android-based device. The smartphone runs Android 2.2.
The only major smartphone carrier to keep quiet this week was Sprint. However, the company has a major announcement planned for Monday. While it’s unclear what the company will unveil, it has enlisted the help of world renowned illusionist David Blaine to draw attention for the event.