Microsoft unleashes smartphone assault

Orange and Sendo join the party
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

Orange and Sendo join the party

Mobile phone network operator Orange and equipment maker Sendo have separately announced the first handsets featuring Microsoft's new platform for mobiles, called Windows Powered Smartphone 2002. The announcements mark the first entry by Microsoft into the potentially huge market for mobile phones with email and personal organiser features. The new platform may also represent a serious challenge for Symbian, whose smartphone software has been licensed by most major mobile phone makers, and has recently pulled ahead of competitors in the European market. Microsoft's smartphone strategy emphasises Microsoft's own brand and that of the network operators, treating the handset hardware as a commodity - much as in the PC market. As such it has been less attractive to the large, well-known mobile phone makers, which prefer to keep the software brand in the background. Smartphone 2002 licensees have thus tended to be commodity hardware makers who are less interested in pushing their own brands. Orange's handset, for example, is made by Taiwan's High-Tech Computing (HTC), which also manufactures the xda smartphone sold by O2 in the UK and T-Mobile in the US. HTC also manufactures devices for handheld computer makers such as Hewlett-Packard. The Sendo handset is not currently available on the Orange network. Samsung has licensed Smartphone 2002, the only well-known handset maker to do so, but is also planning a Symbian-based device. In the US, AT&T Wireless has agreed to produce a phone using the Smartphone 2002 operating system possibly in mid-2003. Microsoft also makes Pocket PC Phone Edition, a version of its Windows CE software for handheld computers that include mobile phone functions, such as Hewlett-Packard's Jornada 928. We'll have more on the Windows Powered Smartphone launches later... Matthew Broersma writes for ZDNet UK
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