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Following what looks to be a massive adware outbreak on the Android marketplace, Microsoft's Ben Rudolph is looking to ease the pain of 20 affected users by giving them free Windows phones.  Rudolph asked what may be 5 million victims to share their stories via Twitter today, in hopes that their "Droidrage" might be cured.  Those who have the best stories (or worst, depending on how you look at it), will receive one of the 20 devices.  It's not clear what kind of phone winners will receive, but hey, a free WP7 phone is a free WP7 phone!

Microsoft has been pretty keen on these light-hearted promotions, pitting Windows Phone up against other mobile operating systems.  This is the second time that Android users have received such an offer, the first being back in December, when a smaller malware outbreak occurred.  And at CES, Ben Rudolph was challenging attendees to speed tests in the "Smoked by Windows Phone," which may even become a traveling affair.

Source: Ben Rudolph (Twitter)

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According to the Q4 2011 U.S. data released by Nielsen, Microsoft has caught 1.3% of the "current smartphone consumer" market, whereas they've attracted 1.4% of recent smartphone acquires (within the 3 months). Windows Mobile is set at 4.6% with Blackberry holding 14.9%. Windows Mobile is still being pumped out (more being sold than Windows Phone) but Blackberry is struggling to attract smartphone upgrades.

iOS saw an increase with the recent iPhone 4S launch, which has been relatively successful, while Android storms ahead taking almost half the market (46.4%) and attracting 51.7% of the recent smartphone acquires. For 2012, Microsoft (as well as the platform OEMs) have a task to win the minds of consumers and catch the majority of new adopters. With the beginning of the U.S. push, and marketing still ongoing across Europe and beyond, we should hopefully see some results in the Q1 2012 report.

Source: Nielsen, via: WMPU

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Microsoft has been busy lately hammering out Android licensing deals with manufacturers.  A few days after announcing an agreement with LG, word is that they are close to a similar one with Pantech, South Korea’s third largest handset manufacturer.  A Pantech spokesman told Yonhap News, "We are in talks with Microsoft over the patent use, but specific details have not yet been decided." 

While nothing is set in stone, it is expected that the deal will mirror others signed with Samsung and others, which require them to pay Microsoft five dollars for every device sold.  Not including this deal in the making, Microsoft claims to have secured licensing agreements with 70% of all Android device manufacturers. 

Source: Yonhap News; Via: SlashGear

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Korean tech manufacturer LG is the latest company to reach an Android licensing deal with Microsoft.  The agreement is similar to those signed with HTC, Samsung and others, but unlike them, also includes Google's Chrome OS.  Microsoft has benefited greatly from licensing deals.  One estimate had them making three times more off HTC's Android sales alone than their own Windows Phone 7. 

Microsoft attorney, Horacio Gutierrez, praised the "mutually beneficial agreement," noting that MS now licenses Android to 70% of all Android phones sold in the U.S.:

“We are pleased to have built upon our longstanding relationship with LG to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Together with our 10 previous agreements with Android and Chrome OS device manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung and Acer, this agreement with LG means that more than 70 percent of all Android smartphones sold in the U.S. are now receiving coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft. “We are proud of the continued success of our program in resolving the IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome OS.”

LG's Ken Hong sounded equally upbeat, saying that the deal allowed both companies to get back to what they do best, putting out products for consumers:

"We're of course pleased we could come to amicable terms with Microsoft, whom LG has had a great working relationship with for years. This agreement allows both companies to move beyond the legal issues and get on with doing what both companies do best, which is developing products and delivering services that benefit consumers."

The Chrome part of the deal has yet to come into play, though speculation is that it will involve LG's upcoming 3D Google TV.  As for the remaining 30% of the U.S. Android market, it looks like Microsoft's sights could next be set on Motorola Mobility, who was acquired by Google last year.  How fascinating would it be if Google has to pay Microsoft for using one of its own products?

Source: Microsoft; Via: AndroidCentral

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A half-dozen Android phones (literally, six Android phones) and the announcement of the HTC Titan II dominated the AT&T Developer Summit this morning at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. But Nokia CEO Stephen Elop promised that his company has phones on the way, too, and we'll see them announced at its press event this afternoon.

The Lumia 900 is all be assured, and hopefully Elop's got something else up his sleeve, too.

Check back at 3 p.m. PST / 6 p.m. EST for the liveblog! Bookmark this link!

More: See all of our CES 2012 Windows Phone coverage

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E.D. Kain, a contributor over at Forbes, has published an interesting article about why he believes Windows Phone will do well in the competitive smartphone market. The post is perfect to put every reader in a positive mood with CES 2012 coming up shortly. Kain provides five reasons why the platform has the potential to do well, should more hardware compliment the OS, and the future be maintained at a "bright" level:

  1. Windows Phone Has A Totally Unique UI
  2. Originality Means Fewer Forays Into The Patent Wars
  3. Uniformity Across All Devices and Carriers
  4. Zune Is Baked Right Into the Operating System
  5. Xbox Live Gaming Support

While none of the above will be anything new to majority of platform veterans, it does paint a clear picture of what path Microsoft is traveling down, not just with Windows Phone but other product lines too. Kain's verdict is 2012 will see the platform enter a three-way race against the iPhone and Android (which we can all agree with).

CES 2012 will house Nokia's Lumia 900 announcement, which will kick off the aggressive marketing campaign in the U.S. and join the media tsunami that has been witnessed across Europe and beyond. Be sure to check out the full read at Forbes (link below).

Source: Forbes

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Two weeks ago we reported how Windows Phone had beaten out Android devices as the top-rated phones on Amazon Wireless. Flash forward today, after the holiday hubbub has died down and we're excited to see Windows Phones are still in the top with the HTC Titan holding steady with an average of 4.7 (out of 5) from 73 reviews.

That's pretty much consensus folks--people really like that phone. Not surprisingly, the other biggy is the Samsung Focus S which has a slightly higher score of 4.8 (out of 5) but only out of 50 reviews--still, that's a very high-rate of satisfaction.

Rounding out the top three is the Verizon HTC Trophy with a whopping 4.9 (out of 5) from 56 reviews--are you listening, Verizon? People really like that phone.  In addition, on Verizon's site, the Trophy sits with 4.5 stars out of 800 reviews, most gushing with praise and even Best Buy has it with 5 (out of 5) from 15 reviews.

We should also mention that the Radar 4G on T-Mobile was their 2nd highest rated phone (it's now dropped to #4 but still has 4.8 (out of 5) from 106 reviews).

Windows Phone may not have the sales...yet. But we have solid phones with a lot of happy customers and that's a good thing.

Source: Amazon Wireless; via Joe Belfiore

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Microsoft has already released Kinectimals and the Xbox Live app for the iPhone and the company may be looking to continue that expansion.

In a recent jobs posting over at Microsoft Careers, there is a listing for a Software Development Engineer for Xbox Live Mobile. What has caught the attention of several is this part of the job description.

"...we work closely with console software team and Xbox LIVE services team to bring the latest and greatest gaming and entertainment experience to mobile platforms including Windows Phone, iOS and other mobile platforms."

The job description also notes in the qualifications,

"Experience of Windows Phone, iOS or Android development is a big plus."

We can only speculate what's up Microsoft's sleeve as far as the future of Xbox Live mobile games is concerned but the listing does look like expansion is up for consideration.

From a purely business point of view, if Microsoft can tap into the iOS and Android markets it could be a good business decision by increasing their customer base.  It not only has the potential of generating more revenue from the games but also attract more customers to the Xbox Live console.

From a Windows Phone perspective, such a move has a little sting to it. While Xbox Live games are not the sole benefit or attraction of a Windows Phone, it is a center piece feature.  If expansion is in the works, hopefully Microsoft will keep some Xbox Live titles (or features) exclusive to the Windows Phone. Otherwise they may lose a key marketing point.

So what do our reader's think? Is Xbox Live expansion good or bad for our Windows Phone?

via: LiveSide, Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this.

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Nothing beats more feel good stories for Windows Phone as we countdown to the big day (should you celebrate Christmas of course). We've witnessed the Nokia Lumia 800 taking top spots around the globe in terms of orders/sales. Now it's Amazon's turn with three Windows Phones taking the top three positions (beating multiple Android handsets) on the top rated, contract-bound mobile phones list. We have the HTC Titan, Samsung Focus S (4G), and the HTC Trophy. Take that Google.

Source: Amazon, thanks kooksta for the tip!

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Looks like Nokia is doing a little sabre rattling with the folks at Pocket-lint. In an interview with Niels Munksgaard, director of Portfolio, Product Marketing & Sales at Nokia Entertainment Global, the company clearly wants to take on the big guys in mobile and are not pulling any punches:

“What we see is that youth are pretty much fed up with iPhones. Everyone has the iPhone," he said. "Also, many are not happy with the complexity of Android and the lack of security. So we do increasing see that the youth that wants to be on the cutting edge and try something new are turning to the Windows phone platform.”

Munksgaard also points out how difficult competition can be with multiple "black slab" phones greeting customers when the walk in to a mobile store. Indeed, that may be why we're seeing Cyan and Magenta 800s and 710s with back-plates--a nice change from the sea of black. Heck, even we want a Cyan Lumia 800.

Other notes of interest are his comments on Nokia Mix Radio--either coming to desktops or perhaps Windows Phones by other OEMs--part of their strategy to "broaden he coverage of where you can get Nokia Mix Radio”. In addition, it doesn't look like Nokia will be making docking stations anytime soon but will instead rely on 3rd parties to grow their accessories, perhaps much like Apple.

Its good though to see Nokia coming out fighting a bit. Clearly they have the spirit to take on this challenge, lets just hope it pays off.

Read the rest of the interview at Pocket-lint.

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Microsoft is doing a good job when it comes to light promotion with Brandon Watson offering well known names a free Windows Phone to try out. Now Ben Rudolph is giving away 5 free Windows Phones to unhappy Android owners who can provide the best (or worst) experience story. Android has suffered from Malware and other issues, which Microsoft will not be allowing the platform to get off lightly without attempting to attract unhappy consumers.

Source: Twitter (@BenThePCGuy), via: MobilityDigest, thanks thenet for the tip!

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Carrier IQ being used by the FBI?

If you were glad that Windows Phone doesn't have Carrier IQ on board before, you may be even happier now.The software, found on Android phones, has come under scrutiny for allegedly collecting data on users, including keystrokes, URLs and messages. Microsoft has recently denied using CIQ on any of its Windows Phones. 

Now, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was put onto the FBI regarding what information it has on Carrier IQ and the response is a bit troubling but not exactly defining either.  In essence, the FOI request was denied on grounds that it would interfere with ongoing investigations and that it is currently being used for law enforcement purposes--the question arises though, who's being investigated Carrier IQ or citizens?

The site MuckRock, who put in the FOI (kudos), seems to think it's the latter--after all, US intelligence agencies do have a history of using outside commercial companies for data collection. In addition, MuckRock notes "...the request was specifically for documents related directly to accessing and analyzing Carrier IQ data.", which hints at something more than the company itself. Of course with the recent outcries against Carrier IQs practices, they could also themselves be under investigation too, which would be ironic.

MuckRock plans to appeal the FOI denial and hopes to get further clarification on the matter.

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Former General Manager of the Windows Phone Developer Ecosystem, Charlie Kindel, who recently left Microsoft,  won an Android-based Samsung Galaxy SII--arguably one of the best Android phones out on the market right now in terms of features and availability. In turn, he decided to post his thoughts on the device and perhaps more importantly, the OS itself.

Now lets be clear: Kindel is not pretending to be unbiased here. Working for Microsoft for 21 years and being key to the development of Windows Phone does not leave one impartial. Having said that, the man is no longer with Microsoft, has no vested interest in the success of Windows Phone and can say what he wants. (And anyone familiar with ex-Microsofties know, they often say some unabashedly awful things about the company, rarely pulling punches).  Knowing all of that though, Kindel's assessment is still at least interesting--he does know design, usability and certainly technology.

So what did he think? Well, he tends to really rip Android a lot in terms of UI, stability and battery life aka the usual reasons people get tired of Android. Even if you don't agree with his review, it's a fun read for a Sunday. To tease the piece, we'll just post his summary:

"A typical non-geek consumer would be absolutely-fraking-crazy to pick an Android phone over a Windows Phone. Windows Phone is vastly more refined, cohesive, and easy to use. Period."

"People who enjoy “managing” their phone might enjoy “managing” their Android smartphone. Those folks will probably forget how much fun “managing” a smartphone was after they’ve used Windows Phone for a while. Instead they’ll see how much fun it is to “use” a smartphone."

Read the whole post on his blog here.

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Computer and mobile device security is a tough business. There's hype and then there are real threats and so far most in mobile have been hype (but see AVG-gate). Still, Android is either an OS with a lot of security vulnerabilities or everyone just likes to pick on it. Either way, between Carrier IQ earlier this week and now this paper from North Carolina State University, the little robot is having a tough time.

Computer scientists at NCSU created an app called 'Woodpecker' that would search for app vulnerabilities in Androids's permission-based security model. In short, when you install an app in Android, it tells you what that app can access e.g. user info, data, geolocation, recording sound, etc. Basically if you don't think a wallpaper app should have access to say, recording sounds, you prevent the app from installing. The problem is this: apps can unknowingly grant permissions to other apps, allowing a seemingly innocuous program to gain access to functions not agreed to by the user.

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Windows Phone has been top of the charts when it comes to advertisement CTR (click-through rate) for some time. Smaato has provided Q3 data and the trend remains the same with Windows Phone heading the way and Symbian close behind. iOS has moved from 3rd to 4th place however, with RIM moving up. This is comparing numbers and placement with Q1 data.

While the average user may not understand nor care for CTR, for developers it's key when using advertising over app purchases for revenue. The question of CPM or upfront payments has always been a tricky one to answer, but should your app be popular with adverts being displayed, the above data would suggest you should rake in some clicks. Interesting to see Android still trailing behind.

Source: Smaato, via: TechCrunch

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If you haven't been following the Carrier IQ saga, let us try to re-cap it for you. Going back to October, it was reported that software on HTC Android phones was recording data and as Android Central lightly put it, "storing it sloppily". Information that was collected included phone numbers, geolocation and account names. It doesn't identify you per se with your name, but rather your device ID. Still, people rightly raised a storm. Turns out that software had a name: Carrier IQ.

Fast forward to last week when Trevor Eckhart -- aka TrevE -- wrote in detail what Carrier IQ was actually doing on the phone. The company Carrier IQ did not like this, made some legal threats against him, prompting the Electronic Frontier Foundation to step in. Carrier IQ (or just CIQ) quickly backed down and things looked to be at a stand off. CIQ then put out a press-release stating that their software

  • Does not record your keystrokes.
  • Does not provide tracking tools.
  • Does not inspect or report on the content of your communications, such as the content of emails and SMSs.
  • Does not provide real-time data reporting to any customer.
  • Finally, we do not sell Carrier IQ data to third parties.

Now, Eckhart has just published a second video (after the break) in response to CIQ's press release which seemingly contradicts just about all of the above. In the 17 minute long video (it gets good at about 8 minutes), Eckhart goes through and in real-time shows how keystrokes are recorded including phones numbers dialed, HTTPS data is sent unencrypted, text message data is accessed and of course that you really don't know that this app is running. All of this is performed on a stock Sprint EVO 3D and EVO 4G. What makes all of this troubling is the fact that (a) you aren't told about it (b) can't uninstall the software. You need to root the phone and load on a new, custom OS to get rid of it...

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Microsoft has set up a demo for iPhone and Android owners to hit up on their mobile web browsers. This demo will allow the visitor to witness what Windows Phone has to offer. The above screenshots were taken on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus and as you can see the demo looks as it should on a mobile browser, taking up the screen and showcasing the Metro UI. There are also visual guides that show where to swipe and tap.

Windows Phone isn't supported (along with Safari on the Mac), which is no surprise as those who already own a handset shouldn't need to run through a demo. Check out the demo at the source link below.

Source: Microsoft WP Demo, thanks for everyone who tipped us, and to Richard for the pics!

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It is hard to believe that HTC is having a rough year. After all, it seems like nearly every other day on Android Central a new phone of theirs is being released. Still, while they've shipped 25 million phones this year and their name is now well known, Samsung and Motorola have been grabbing the spotlight too, resulting in a less-than-stellar quarter in profits for smartphone manufacture. They're banking on a better year in 2012 where they estimate they'll ship 45 million phones and have some new "flagship" Android devices--devices which we already thought existed.

So why the sudden downturn? Over at PaidContent, they suggest two reasons:

  1. They're betting a lot on Android. With its cutthroat competition in Android hardware, banking on the lil' robot has high rewards as well as high risks. If you're a hit with consumers, you win big. But if you don't have a "killer device" that year, you can flounder. This is why Nokia went with Windows Phone--the competition was less one-upmanship and they could really stake their ground instead of being just another player.
  2. Patent costs. While Android once promised to be the "free OS" for OEMs in which they could reap pure profit, it turns out a lot customization to the OS by HTC in addition to the patent costs (due to Microsoft gaining licensing agreements with them) has hit their bottom line.

Of course this doesn't mean that Windows Phone will be their savior either, as our market share is still tiny. But perhaps if HTC starts putting more resources into that camp and growing the market, they could hedge off any looming Nokia threat. And yes, HTC should be very concerned with a looming Nokia, especially in the U.S. come 2012.

Source: PaidContent/Yahoo! Finance

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We know a few things about about Android: they're ubiquitous, have fragmentation, range from super cheaper to top of the line and now evidently they cost carriers a lot of money in service calls and repairs. Up to $2 billion a year, at least according to a white paper by Wireless Dat Service.

The study looked at over 600,000 support calls to carriers over the last 12 months. The results highlight that 14% of support calls dealing with Android related to hardware repairs whereas Windows Phone 7 came in at 11%. By comparison, BlackBerry was at 5.5% and the iPhone at 7%.

The results are clear: the tighter the grip the OS developer has on the hardware, the more reliable it is. RIM and Apple control their hardware in every which way since they literally design the OS and hardware together. Microsoft certainly has more control with their chassis requirements but ultimately it is up to OEMs like Samsung and HTC to make the device. Google is even more lax with Android, allowing anything and everything to go, hence a little more chaotic.

However, Tim Deluca-Smith, vice president of marketing at WDS does point out that it is because of Android's wild and uninhibited nature that it now commands much of the market, albeit at a price to customers--more hardware failures due to rush to market and less frequent OS updates. On that latter point, the report cites a 2010 study which notes "of 18 Android devices from the US, 10 were at least two major versions behind within their two-year contract period."

Microsoft truly has a middle of the road approach which is giving them more stable hardware and consistent user experience across devices. In addition, major OS updates like Mango seem to be going very well with nearly 50% of current phones already upgraded just five weeks after a slowly expanding rollout.

Perhaps the report will get carriers to reconsider betting everything on Android and look for a more cost-effective and reliable OS like Windows Phone.

Source: WDS (registration req); via Fierce Wireless, After Dawn

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Yves Maitre, senior vice president of devices and mobile multimedia at Orange, has told CNET in an interview this week that Windows Phone is the worst-selling platform in Orange's market (behind Android, iOS and Blackberry) in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"Honestly, it hasn't been as successful as we expected."

I'm not sure if every Windows Phone owner shares the same view as Maitre, since we've already covered problems with carriers not displaying working demo units in stores and promoting the platform in the media. Do you see Orange adverts for Windows Phone on TV, online, on billboards, in newspapers or in stores? If the overall response is "no", then how can Orange expect the platform to sell well against competitors that get more reach to their customer base?

"By Barcelona [the site of February's Mobile World Congress conference], we'll know for sure if Microsoft is in the game or not. If Nokia/Microsoft is not successful in Europe then it will be tough in other countries"

He does remain cautiously optimistic that the Nokia brand will push forward the platform and will force other OEMs to compete with one another through advertising. Maitre views Nokia as an expensive vehicle, "it's like you're driving a Mercedes Benz". With smartphones counting for 50% of sales for Orange, the carrier is going to have to work hard, as well as Microsoft, if they want the OS to compete with Android, Blackberry and the iPhone.

Nokia is set to unveil a "bunch" of handsets at Nokia World next week. Microsoft is banking big on this event and top names will be present as speakers. We'll be there too, so be sure to say hello should you be attending.

Source: CNET

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