Microsoft's big update to its mobile phone platform is released to manufacturers. Will Nokia deal bear fruit?
Mango is a major update to Windows Phone 7 with more than 500 new and improved features. It has been in beta for several months. Those signed up for the developer program have been able to work with it to both ensure their apps work properly in the new platform as well as able to take advantage of new features. The code is now done and Microsoft has sent it to its manufacturing partners, including Nokia. We should see phones running it in a matter of a few months.
Internet Explorer 9 is probably the biggest feature, and will finally bring HTML5 support to Windows Phone. Users of Twitter also will note that the service is natively supported, without the need for a third-party client.
Under the hood, multitasking to some degree is also supported, provided the developer updates their apps to support the feature. There are hundreds of other features, some of which can be found here.
The question is, what will this do to WP7's share? Nokia's partnership with Microsoft will finally bear fruit. The Finnish phone maker has relationships with most carriers around the world and strong brand recognition among consumers. Now that it has abandoned Symbian and limited Meego to a one-phone experiment, it has put its entire future in the hands on Windows Phone 7 and its own phone design prowess.
At least one analyst thinks it won't matter and that the collaboration will be a failure. He notes that Nokia is losing share fast, and that is true. Once on a downward trend, it is hard to change that momentum. Just ask Palm.
The issue though is more complex than current share. Nokia's Symbian platform was well past its prime. It needed to be replaced. Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform too was old and on the market at least two years longer than it should have been. Windows Phone 7 is the replacement for both Windows Mobile and Symbian. While it is true that it is all new, and in nearly a year it still has very little share, there are bright spots in the story.
First of all, the platform has a very healthy developer community and a rich selection of applications in its store—more than 25,000 in fact. Second, users of Windows Phone were second only to iOS users in being "very satisfied" with the platform. Word of mouth will eventually pay off.
Now that Mango has been released for production, Nokia will release phones soon. Within 12 months of that we'll know if WP7 is going to gain traction or if, for the time being, iOS and Android have blocked all other platforms from having a chance.
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