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9/3/2010
02:09 AM
Ed Hansberry
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Samsung Picks Android, Windows Phone 7 Takes Hit

Samsung announced on Thursday that they plan to focus their development efforts on Google's Android platform and their own Bada platform. Up until now, Samsung has been a solid partner of Microsoft's. They aren't leaving Windows Phone 7 behind, but they are only planning one device running Microsoft's new software. As for Symbian, don't count on it.

Samsung announced on Thursday that they plan to focus their development efforts on Google's Android platform and their own Bada platform. Up until now, Samsung has been a solid partner of Microsoft's. They aren't leaving Windows Phone 7 behind, but they are only planning one device running Microsoft's new software. As for Symbian, don't count on it.Samsung's head of marketing, YF Lee told Reuters that "We are Prioritizing our Android platform. Android is very open and flexible, and there is a consumer demand for it" at the IFA consumer electronics fair which starts today in Germany and runs through September 8.

Right now, Android is the platform to beat for cell phone makers. They basically have three choices: Android, Windows Phone 7 and Symbian. Symbian, at least in the US, is a non-starter. Despite being on millions of phones, it is seen by few as little more than a feature phone, and that is even if the consumer recognizes the name of the operating system on their Symbian based device. Windows Phone 7 isn't available and Windows Mobile 6.5 phones are just as much of a non-starter as Symbian is. Even when WP7 is available, it is untested in the market. Reviews of performance and capabilities have been good, even when compared to the iPhone or Android devices like the Droid X, but to date hasn't sold a single device.

iOS, Blackberry and WebOS are not licensed to other manufacturers, so that leaves Android, and it is hard to go wrong with that platform right now.

Windows Phone 7 has an uphill battle, one that just got steeper with Samsung backing off, if not out. If WP7 does well, I'm sure Samsung will jump in with more devices, but if not, they won't have lost a huge investment. WP7 is in a Catch-22 situation. If successful, manufacturers and carriers will flock to it. However, to be successful, it needs broad support. HP is out of the equation now that it owns WebOS. Verizon has announced end-of-life dates for all existing Windows Mobile 6.x devices still in inventory and no leaked road maps have a WP7 device in sight.

Android picks up more steam here, and it is at the expense of Microsoft. It will be months before we have an idea of WP7's success, but this news casts an additional shadow on the fledgling platform. Don't make the mistake of counting it out though. You'd be foolish to think the smartphone game is over and Android and iOS have won the day. I doubt any new entry from a small startup could make much headway, but someone with the clout of a Microsoft can simply make room for themselves swinging their $500 million sledgehammer.

Microsoft has another trick up its sleeves as well. Head over to Paul Thurrott's blog on why Microsoft's development environment may be the lynchpin of WP7's success. Anyone who wants to mock the Silverlight/.NET/XNA combo available to WP7 developers when the competition is using Objective C or Java needs to wake up.

The game is far from over. If you think it is, just ask someone from Palm when they had 90 percent plus share of the mobile market less than a decade ago.

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