Microsoft eyes larger share of smartphone OS market

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 12

Microsoft Corp is gearing up to grab a share of the highly competitive smartphone operating system (OS) market with its partner in the sector, HTC Corp (宏達電), launching two new phones yesterday that run its latest Windows Phone platform.

The two HTC phones — the Titan and the Radar — are scheduled to hit the shelves at the end of this month. The price of the 4.7-inch Titan is NT$18,900 (US$623), while the 3.8-inch Radar will cost NT$13,900.

Microsoft Taiwan general manager Davis Tsai (蔡恩全) said the company is confident that Mango, the latest upgrade of the company’s Windows Phone OS, has a good chance of challenging Apple Inc’s iOS over the next three years.

Mango’s new features have grabbed market attention. The improvements include threads, which allow users to switch between text, Facebook chat and Windows Live Messenger within the same conversation, and deeper social network integration, which means Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds are now integrated into contact cards and users can see updates from all their contacts in one stream under the “What’s New” tab.

In April, researcher Gartner forecast that Google Inc’s Android OS would have the largest market share during the next four years, rising to 49 percent in 2015 from 23 percent last year.

Apple’s iOS was predicted to grow to 17 percent from 16 percent, while Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS would grab 19.5 percent in 2015 from 4.2 percent last year.

In June, IDC predicted that Microsoft would hold a 20.3 percent market share in 2015.

Taiwanese app developers have started to position themselves to ride the growth of Windows Phone.

“You see shadows of the iOS on Android and these two are more app-driven platforms, while Mango gives you a complete user experience, such as in terms of navigation direction,” said Izero Lee (李明哲), chief operating officer of KKBox Inc, Taiwan’s largest online music service provider.

KKBox has updated its app in Traditional Chinese for subscribers of Windows Phone’s app store, Windows Marketplace.

The music provider, which debuted its music service in Japan in June, is testing a Mango-based app for launch in that market by early next year, Lee said.

KKBox is also promoting its app on Google’s Android Market and Apple’s App Store.

Hu Hsueh-hai (胡學海), marketing managing director at Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), said it is in talks with Microsoft Taiwan to bundle its own app store, called Hami, into Windows Marketplace, in a move that would offer Hami to a larger audience.

Microsoft Taiwan said offerings in its Marketplace are set to soar to 100,000 apps by the end of next year, from the current archive of almost 35,000 apps.

“Our application store will be the fastest growing of them all,” said Cathy Yeh (葉怡君), Windows client business group director.

There are more than 200 apps developed by Taiwanese firms on Marketplace and e-reading, music services and games apps are popular among Taiwanese users, she said.