Microsoft Mango Not Nokia-Exclusive, But Will OEMs Leave Android?

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By CAF | July 27, 2011 9:43 PM EST

Microsoft announced Tuesday the next version of the Windows Phone operating system, code-named Mango, has been delivered to manufacturers and carriers. Microsoft delivered the beta version of Mango app developers at the end of June.

"This marks the point in the development process where we hand code to our handset and mobile-operator partners to optimize Mango for their specific phone and network configurations," Terry Myerson, Microsoft's corporate vice president of engineering for Windows phone, wrote on a company blog. "Here on the Windows Phone team, we now turn to preparing for the update process."
The update brings multitasking, seamless communication options, an overhaul of the built-in Internet Explorer Web browser, and a much richer Bing search, among many new features.

"The next version of Windows Phone 7, called "Mango," although that won't be its final name, is great-looking and fun to use," PCMag.com's managing editor for mobile, Sascha Segan, wrote. "It's full of people-centric features that make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family, to communicate, and to share ideas. It's easier to use than Android, and in many ways slicker than Apple's iOS."

Microsoft has promised to deliver Mango in the fall. OEMs are expected to deliver new phones with the Mango OS, and current Windows WP7 users can update their phones with the new OS.

CNET notes that Mango is the first major system software update to hit Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform since an interim release near the end of March that added copy-and-paste functionality, improved marketplace search, and enabled faster app loading.  

Nokia's Windows Phones

Nokia, still the world's largest vendor in terms of mobile phones and smartphones combined, is ditching the Symbian OS in favor of Microsoft Windows in order to regain market share lost to Apple's iPhone and devices now using Google's Android operating system.
Nokia has said it will release Windows phones starting at the end of the year.  Nokia's first Windows phone, code-named Sea Ray, was showcased by CEO Stephen Elop to staff last month.

Sea Ray conforms to hardware shortcut buttons common in WP phones. The smartphone is expected to have a second-generation Snapdragon processor.  It is also seen as running on Windows Phone Mango Build 7710. Sea Ray is expected to be in markets by the end of 2011.  Sea Ray has a form factor similar of the already unveiled, but yet to be released Nokia N9. The Nokia N9 is touted as one of Nokia's finest works to date, based on design. The Nokia N9 is a button-less touch screen smartphone comes with a curved design and a 3.9-inch AMOLED display. The N9 though is running on the Meego operating system, which many say is the first and last Meego offering from Nokia.

Other OEM's WP7 Phones

Other OEMs, including HTC, Dell, Samsung, and LG released Windows 7 phones last year. However, those Windows phones barely made a dent in the market. While HTC and Samsung have seen their market share rise this year, its primarily because of their new smartphone offerings -- phones running on the Android platform.

With many phone makers now shifting to Android, the Android has emerged as the top platform for smartphones this year.
Samsung has sold 3 million units of the Galaxy SII within 55 days of its release in April this year. The Samsung GALAXY SII is an Android 2.3 Gingerbread-powered device with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. With a vivid 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen display, it looks like an iPhone.

HTC also released this year the HTC Sensation, another Android 2.3-powered smartphone. It has 1.2 gigahertz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and has Adobe Flash 10.2 support.  

Research firm IDC expects that Windows Phone 7 will only be used in 3.8 percent of smartphones sold this year. It expects Android to have a 38.9 percent market share, distancing itself from iOS, the platform for Apple's iPhones, which will have an 18.2 percent market share. The Symbian, which is used in Nokia phones, will have a 20.6 percent market share for second place. BlackBerry OS, used for BlackBerry phones, is in 4th with a 14.2 percent market share.

No. 2 by 2015

IDC expects to see Windows Phone 7 grab more market share in the years to come.  It said that Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile will benefit from Nokia's support, scope, and breadth within markets where Nokia has historically had a strong presence. Until Nokia begins introducing Windows Phone-powered smartphones in large volumes in 2012, Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile will only capture a small share of the market as the release of Mango-powered smartphones are not expected to reach the market until late 2011. Nevertheless, assuming that Nokia's transition to Windows Phone goes smoothly, the OS is expected to defend a number two rank and more than 20 percent share in 2015, IDC said.

IDC expects that in 2015, Android (which is being used by Samsung, HTC, LG and other phone makers) will hike its market share to 43.8 percent and will continue to be the top platform for smartphones.  Windows OS, which will already be in Nokia phones by that time, will be the second most popular, with a 20.3 percent market share. The iOS will maintain its third spot. IDC expects that the BlackBerry OS, which is solely used for BlackBerry phones, will maintain its position as a Top 4 smartphone operating system, with a 13.4 percent market share in 2015.

Number two is a great leap for Microsoft in the smartphone market, which has been elusive for the top OS maker for personal computers. However, it is worthwhile to note that the 20 percent market share projected for Windows in 2015 is the same market share Nokia is expected to hold this year, its lowest in many years.  Assuming Nokia would have the same market share this year and in 2015, then it appears that Nokia would be the sole user of the Windows OS. Nokia's Symbian had a 50 percent market share in 2008 and 2009 and a 38 percent market share in 2010.

Nokia, Apple vs. Android

While Apple and Nokia would likely be unable to stop Samsung, HTC and others from selling smartphones based on the open source and non-proprietary Android operating system, they can still gain from the smartphone sales of their rivals through royalty payments and fees.

Google's Android mobile operating system has been targeted in at least six legal patent infringement complaints. Google's Android only entered the smartphone market in 2008, when Nokia and Apple phones had already gained ground in the market.

Apple has patent cases before the U.S. International Trade Commission that target Android phones made by Samsung Electronics Co., HTC Corp. (2498) and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. Each of those companies has filed cases against Apple. The ITC has found that HTC infringed two Apple patents but later ruled that Apple violated on two S3 Graphics owned by HTC. Apple is asking the ITC to ban Android phones from being sold in the U.S. due to the patent infringement.

In addition, Oracle Corp. has sued Google over Java in Google's development of the Android OS. Oracle claims that "Google's Android competes with Oracle America's Java" and that Google has been aware of Sun's patent portfolio.

Nokia Oyj last month won a patent fight with Apple Inc., in a settlement that awards a one-time payment and royalties to the Finnish handset maker. Nokia, has been in the handheld business earlier than Apple, had claimed that Apple's iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet infringed on its patents.   

The outcome of the Apple-Nokia dispute could also have major implications for Google's Android operating system and the manufacturers using it because Android and Apple's mobile software are similar, meaning Android may also be using many of the same technologies in question, Florian Muller, an intellectual-property consultant in Starnberg, Germany, told the Wall Street Journal.

Nokia said that during the last two decades, it has invested EUR43 billion in research and development and built one of the wireless industry's strongest and broadest IPR portfolios, with over 10,000 patent families.

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