Nick Parker, Microsoft's senior vice president for handset makers,
said the changes have attracted a range of new handset makers to
build Windows Phones, including South Korea's LG Electronics,
India's Xola and Karbonn, and ZTE, Foxconn, Lenovo, Gionee and
"We are open for business on Windows Phone to anyone who wants to
build a Windows phone," Parker said at the Mobile World Congress
trade fair on Sunday.
Windows Phones typically sell for several hundred dollars a piece,
although Nokia's Lumia 520 handset has an unsubsidized price of
about 139 euros ($190) in Europe.
The sub-$100 smartphone market, however, is dominated by Google's
Android operating system, which has lower licensing costs, is more
adaptable by device makers, and runs on more, and cheaper, chip sets
that run radio and other functions.
Android phones from dozens of handset makers accounted for almost
four out of every five smartphones sold, or 781.2 million units,
last year, according to Strategy Analytics.
Microsoft was a distant third in market share terms, behind Apple,
which shipped 153.4 million smartphones.
Some 5.7 million Windows Mobile units were shipped worldwide,
Strategy Analytics said. While it gained a more than 10 percent
share in some markets, for example Italy, other markets like the
United States remained tough, Vice President Joe Belgiore said in
The next major update of the software in coming months would allow
it to support less expensive chip sets from its existing supplier,
Some of the Windows Phone standards would also be eased, he said.
Microsoft had previously kept a tight grip on hardware
specifications, for example insisting on three physical buttons, to
create a uniform Windows Phone user experience, regardless of
That is no longer a requirement, allowing phone makers to use
cheaper soft keys and adapt designs used for Android phones.
[to top of second column]
Belgiore said Microsoft was investing in improvements that would
help handset makers get Windows Phone on devices at "lower costs in
terms of manufacturing, licensing and those sorts of things".
For example, in a bid to reach immigrant workers looking to cheaply
call home, Microsoft is including support for dual SIM cards,
allowing users to switch phone tariffs to make cheaper local or
The lion's share of Windows Phones, more than 90 percent last year
according to AdDuplex, are made by Nokia. Microsoft is just about to
close a deal to buy Nokia's handset business for $7.2 billion. HTC,
Huawei and Samsung also make Windows Mobile devices.
"We will continue to have those iconic devices from our deep
partners, but also we'll see an emergence of a lot more of what we
call white label phones, maybe operators' phone themselves,
retailers' phones," Parker said.
Microsoft also said on Sunday it would update its Windows 8.1
operating system, which runs on PCs and tablets, in the coming
months after research found traditional keyboard users were less
satisfied with the software than previous versions of Windows.
"We love touch, but we think we could improve the situation for all
those keyboard users," Belgiore said.
($1 = 0.7275 euros)
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.