Microsoft’s move to widen its manufacturer partner base will drive down the cost of Windows Phone smartphones, Nick Hedderman, head of consumer marketing for Windows Phone at Microsoft UK, said this week.
Hedderman (pictured) told Mobile: ‘The original devices were high-end but over time, as we see greater scale, the price will change.’
Analysts say Microsoft’s penetration of the smartphone market with its Windows Phone operating system has been partly hampered by the cost of Windows handsets, which tend to be more expensive than Android devices. In Q2 2011, Windows Phone 7 held just 1.6% of the global smartphone market share, according to research analyst Gartner.
The company recently signed up new entrants Acer, ZTE and Fujitsu. Asked if more new device partners were about to be signed up, Hedderman said: ‘Watch this space.’
However, Hedderman insisted falling prices would not see the quality bar lowered. He said: ‘If you look at the Nokia Lumia 710 it’s a lot cheaper, but the experience is still great. We have a list of specifications that manufacturers can go above and beyond, but what they cannot do is slip under those specifications on any handset.’
Hedderman (pictured) said Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia will not undermine relations with its other device manufacturers. His response came in the wake of the launch of Nokia’s first Windows Phone, at which Nokia CEO Stephen Elop described the Lumia 800 (pictured) as ‘the first real Windows Phone’ – a claim which appeared to be supported in the same week by Microsoft’s head of Windows Phone Joe Belfiore.
Hedderman said Nokia’s commitment to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system would benefit rather than disadvantage Microsoft’s other devices partners.
He said: ‘Nokia brings to the table an incredible industrial design, stunning phones and innovative services, and so by bringing together Nokia’s heritage and the Windows Phone operating system we get great results.’
Hedderman pointed to the integration of location-based services like Nokia Maps, real-time navigation software Nokia Drive, the live streaming music service Mix Radio and Live View, an augmented reality service, as evidence of how Nokia is taking its Windows Phone smartphones to another level.
He added: ‘It’s about a partnership that is above and beyond doing individual hardware launches. It is not just about putting phones on shelves.’
However, Hedderman argued that this is not to the detriment of other Microsoft device partners such as Samsung, HTC and LG. ‘Our other partners are doing great things too and our OS benefits from these manufacturers as well. [Microsoft’s relationship with Nokia] does not have any effect on our other partners. On the contrary, it helps develop our ecosystem and achieve our vision for Windows Phone to become the third ecosystem.’
Hedderman said the rise in the number of apps and registered Microsoft Windows Phone developers, which has more than doubled over the past 12 months, reflected the increasing success of Windows Phones in the UK marketplace.
‘We have over 50,000 registered developers actively developing apps with over 35,000 apps now available on Microsoft’s Marketplace.’ This compares to a headcount of 20,000 registered developers and 5,500 apps back in January this year. ‘We are getting there now in terms of quantity – but what is also important to us is the quality of the apps and how they can be used on the phone.’
Hedderman said Nokia’s Live Tiles on its Lumia smartphones – which are constantly updated with useful information and organise apps and information into separate hubs for work, social networking, gaming and music – were an example of how Microsoft’s OS allows for a more flexible use of apps compared to other operating systems.
‘It’s not like other systems where you have to download apps and go from one place to another for information,’ he said, adding: ‘Our apps do not just sit in silos, as with other operating systems, so it is a great opportunity for developers.’
Microsoft is gunning for greater share of the b2b market with its latest Windows Phone update. Hedderman said the Mango version would deliver greater productivity by allowing businesses to extend their IT infrastructure and use Microsoft cloud-based services such as Office 365.
‘We have a strong heritage in business and Windows Phone is great for enterprise – allowing users to access a lot of office capacity out on the road.’