Microsoft Corporation’s (MSFT) mobile strategy is unraveling gradually. The world’s largest software company is now looking to stem market share losses, as the line between software and hardware vendors wears increasingly thin.
Next week, the company intends to announce a couple of smartphones targeted at teens and other youngsters. The handsets, code-named Turtle and Pure will be based on Sidekick software (acquired from Danger a few years back). And like the existing Sidekick devices, the phones will be manufactured by Sharp Corp. They will be distributed through Verizon Wireless, a JV between Verizon Communications (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (VOD).
The features that are expected to attract the young crowd include greater integration with Xbox (for games), Zune (for music) and social networking sites. Being sleek and stylish, with a slide-out keyboard and touchscreen display, the devices should be able to attract the targeted crowd.
Microsoft could have waited to launch a phone based on its new Windows Mobile 7 platform. However, the company probably hastened the introduction of the new devices, given its sagging share of the U.S. market.
According to numbers released by ComScore, Microsoft arch rival, Google Inc. (GOOG) has seen a significant increase in market share over the past few months, mostly at the expense of Microsoft. Smartphones from Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM) remain extremely popular and these companies continue to hold market share.
Google has stepped up its mobile plans, as the search giant is in a race to pick up mobile market share, since more and more consumers are expected to connect through a mobile device over the next few years. Microsoft’s older version OS never made a mark in the smartphone market and the company needed to make a serious effort in this regard.
With Google, Apple and Research In Motion doing extremely well with their own devices, Microsoft had to join the bandwagon if only to make a direct connection with consumers.
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