There is a "Google phone" coming, and probably sooner rather than later. Known as the Nexus One, the HTC-made phone won't be the first to run Android (nor is it likely to be the unlocked game changer that many were hoping/wishing it to be, as mobile expert Sascha Segan notes).
Still, I wonder whether the Nexus One will spur Microsoft -- green with Google envy -- to reevaluate whether it should follow suit?
Microsoft was -- at least at one point -- actively working on a Microsoft phone and went so far as to select an ad agency to create a campaign for it. Such a phone was one element of what's been known as Project Pink. The Pink phone was going to be manufactured by some phone maker for Microsoft, but carry the Microsoft brand, I had heard. The phone would be aimed at the teen/twenty-something market -- much like the Sidekick (powered by Danger, which Microsoft acquired in 2008).
A June 2009 Microsoft job posting made reference to a "new Windows Mobile-based consumer phone." Here's what Microsoft was advertising (with the Microsoft PMX, Premium Mobile Experience team):
Job Category: Software Engineering: Program Management Location: China, Beijing Title: Senior/Lead Program Manager- ATC PMX The ATC PMX team in Beijing China is looking for its next super-star Senior/Lead Program Manager! Would you like to take a leading role in building the next-generation premium mobile experience to take on Apple and Google? Do you have the passion and the conviction to design the right product for the customer? Then you will want to work in the new ATC PMX team! This team in ATC is part of a core team at Microsoft to deliver great premium mobile experiences to consumers world-wide. We are looking for a passionate and experienced Sr. Lead PM to work with internal/external partners/stakeholders to drive the delivery of this new exciting premium mobile experience....
- Deliver premium mobile experience on a new Windows Mobile-based consumer phone. (emphasis mine)
- Work with PMs, Devs, Tests, UX, and other stakeholders to ensure quality from design through delivery
- Design great user-centric features to meet the requirements of the end-users and mobile operators.
- Manage multiple priorities to deliver commitments on time and meet/exceed high quality bars
- Manage/mentor/coach more junior PMs
Earlier this fall, screen shots leaked two alleged models of a Microsoft phone -- one codenamed "Turtle" and another, "Pure." But since that time, Microsoft execs have attempted to pour cold water on Microsoft Pink phone rumors. When I had a chance to ask Microsoft Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach as to whether there would be a Microsoft-branded Pink phone coming (one that would be made by a third-party phone vendor, not Microsoft itself), Bach didn't confirm or deny it. He said that with the new "Windows Phone" branding Microsoft and its partners are pushing, there are already a lot of "Microsoft phones."
Bach's comments and other subsequent tips made me think Microsoft had decided against releasing a Microsoft-branded phone and that Pink was back to being nothing but a bunch of consumer-focused premium services that would run on third-party Windows Mobile phones. But now I'm wondering again whether Microsoft -- if officials did change their minds and drop plans for a Pink phone -- will reconsider releasing a "Microsoft phone" in 2010.
What do you think? Will there be a "Microsoft phone" in 2010 -- whether it's from Sharp or another carrier? Or will Microsoft stick with its current multiple-partner strategy, but just whittle down the number of Windows Mobile phone suppliers in time for them to release Windows Mobile 7 phones in late 2010?