A Samsung partner called Samfirmware, which creates ROMs for Samsung devices, sent an interesting tweet in recent days. It said, "Samsung will support Windows phone till end 2012," and then later: "It's true about Samsung and Windows Phone. Windows Phone market is smaller than Samsung's own OS Bada."
Bada is the smartphone operating system that Samsung sells in Korea (its home market), other parts of Asia, and Europe. Samsung recently announced a slew of new Bada-based phones. Not too many companies make Windows Phone 7 handsets. When the platform launched last year, Dell, LG, HTC, and Samsung were the first OEMs to partner with Microsoft. Dell made one phone based on WP7, LG also made one, HTC made four, and Samsung made one. No one but the OEMs themselves and (hopefully) Microsoft knows how many WP7 smartphones have been sold to end users. Market reports from firms such as Nielsen put WP7 in the low single digits in terms of market share. The platform has not done squat to dislodge the Android-iOS duopoly.
It isn't overly surprising, then, to learn that some of Microsoft's partners might be hesitant about further supporting the system.
LG spoke up about WP7 sales early in the year, shortly after the platform's launch. An LG executive said the company was disappointed by the WP7 handsets it was selling and had expected much more interest in the platform. Dell has yet to announce that it will make any more WP7 smartphones, though HTC recently announced two new models, the Radar and the Titan.
Samsung hasn't said much about WP7 lately, and has, to date, only released the one phone, called the Focus. It is important to keep in mind that Samsung hasn't confirmed Samfirmware's statements. It has been a Windows mobile partner with Microsoft for well over five years (remember the BlackJack, anyone?). I fully expect Samsung to bring at least one Windows Phone 7.5 Mango device to market in the next month or so. WP7.5 Mango is due to be released in the very near future.
Samsung has seen incredible growth in the last 15 months since the release of its Android-based Galaxy S smartphones. Between Android and Bada, Samsung has plenty of market firepower. The one real catch here is that Samsung is reportedly making a Windows 8 tablet to show off at the BUILD developers' conference this week. This would make it an odd move for Samsung to drop Microsoft's mobile platform.
It would be a severe blow to Microsoft to lose Samsung as a WP7 OEM, that's for sure. Microsoft has worked its tail off to deliver a highly capable smartphone platform to its partners. The newest version, Mango, is a significant step up and offers all the same functionality that its Android and iOS competitors do. The buying public's indifference to WP7 is puzzling to say the least. Surely Samsung will stick it out a bit longer.
All we can do at this point is to stay tuned...
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