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The Smartphone Beta Test has been running since the birth of the smartphone, well technically it hasn't but it's a pretty neat marketing campaign from Nokia for the U.S. We witnessed a website (www.smartphonebetatest.com) being created with a bunch of videos published to poke fun at some competitor handset issues.

Now the Smartphone Beta Test website has been updated with more interactive content, videos and information on the AT&T Lumia 900, which is launching across the U.S. Cue "Operation Rolling Thunder", Nokia's plan of a attack for the states, which will see the manufacturer driving forward advertising not only for the Lumia handsets, but for Windows Phone too.

Prepare yourselves for some effective Nokia marketing. For a taster, check out the beauty of social integration and live tiles in Windows Phone in the humorous commercial below. Nokia is clearly on the attack here at other smartphones as well as how they can negatively impact our lives by being unreliable - something the manufacturer looks to change with Windows Phone.

Source: Smartphone Beta Test; thanks Hiiiiiiiii for the heads up!

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There is little doubt that Nokia has the deep pockets, ingenuity and cleverness to make an effective advertising campaign for the AT&T Lumia 900. The question is, when will "Operation Rolling Thunder", their nickname for their advertising bombardment of the US begin and what will it entail?

Part of that question is now answered with the site 'Smartphone Beta Test' (www.smartphonebetatest.com) which is a bold and humorous attempt on taking on Apple's iPhone. The site features a countdown clock that expires on April 6th and a video of a man who looks a whole lot like ex-Saturday Night Live alum Chris Parnell sitting in a chair, being bored as he waits for the countdown to expire.

Below that section we see three videos that directly take on the iPhone: Exhibit A "Outside", Exhibit B "Sick Golfer" and Exhibit C "Death Grip". All three videos feature marketing people sitting around a conference room discussing a blurred out, un-named device that is clearly an iPhone. One of the members raises a problem with the device e.g. the famed iPhone death-grip while the other two mercilessly mock him for even caring.

From here we can see one of Nokia's angles for selling the Lumia 900: they will directly be picking a fight with AT&T's former 'hero' device, Apple's iPhone (in addition to possibly any other "beta" phones, which for us brings to mind Google's Android). It is certainly a risky move but if any company can do this, it would be Nokia.

What's interesting is the site currently has the Nokia name crossed out and there is no mention of the Lumia 900 just yet, but we know it's them. For one, the colors of the site are very much a part of the Nokia "Amazing Everyday" campaign and the whole design screams Nokia. And while their domain lookup tells us little (it was registered by proxy, so no information), there is some solid proof it is them behind the site. By looking at the source code for the web page we can see a single Java script link-back to Nokia.com (see above image), which seals the deal for us.

We look forward to see what happens with the site in 5 days and the following Tweets (#BetaPhone) that go with it. Currently those hashtag tweets are done by just a few people, notably from Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners an ad agency which is probably behind this whole Nokia project.

Update: As noted in comments by wp7rocks, going to the site's images directory reveals AT&T and Nokia items. The most curious is this one, calling every other smartphone in "the last 5 year years" a "tester".

Update 2: Reports have come in noting that a teaser ad of this has shown on TV during some NBA games today. You can watch it here.

Source: Smartphone Beta Test; Thanks, cmunic8r99, for the link

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We're just going to come out and say it: Zero, the new to-do list app from tomzorz labs, borrows heavily in inspiration from an iPhone app called Clear (see the iMore review). What makes that funny is Clear is understood as borrowing heavily from Microsoft's Metro UI design language meaning we're finally coming full circle with Clear Zero coming back to Windows Phone.

The to-do list/task manager app is very minimalist in design with zero chrome, ahem. It is primarily gesture based forgoing the traditional bottom-bar method found in most Windows Phone apps--in that sense, it actually deviates against Metro UI but only because it's going more minimalist instead of less. Gestures are simple and universal: up/down to create, left to delete, right to check off, pinch in to go back, pinch out to re-order lists. Because of the gestures, you'll need to tap through a brief (but well done) tutorial at first but you'll lean the system quick enough.

The app itself is clean, fast and to the point and because of that we like it a lot. The Live Tile adds a nice counter though it could perhaps be augmented with a rear tile for more info (space permitting though). Likewise, tying into the Toast notification system could be a good idea in the future to make this a true "reminder" app. We are looking forward though to the back-up feature which we presume will be based on SkyDrive.

You can pick up Zero with a free trial here in the Marketplace for $0.99.

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We showed you the latest version of Ask Ziggy, the Siri-like app knowledge app, last week and we told you it'll be here soon. Sure enough, the app has now been updated in the Marketplace, bringing all that new re-designed goodness free to your phone.

As we remarked and showed in our video, Ask Ziggy v2.0 brings a new Metro look, geolocation localization to answer questions about whereabouts, weather, time and searches. It's also a bit smarter, allowing the developer to update certain features from the backend.

So how much attention is Ask Ziggy getting? A lot. Our first video has 166K views, Microsoft has taken an interest in it. And now we have word that that Nokia has personally invited Ask Ziggy to give a special demo of their voice recognition technology at its 3-domed “Nokia Lab” at the SXSW (South by Southwest) Festival on March 12th. What's more they've doubled their staff from one to two people, which is quite impressive when you think about what they're up against.

Grab Ask Ziggy in the Marketplace for free right here. Let us know in comments your thoughts. Thanks, zoljac, for the heads up

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Well, it certainly took long enough but it looks like the folks at Hotmail finally realized that Windows Phone is their company's OS, not the iPhone. What we mean of course is when you navigate to Hotmail.com you used to be greeted with the three smartphones: Samsung Focus, iPhone and some Android thing.

Now, in an ever-so-slight refresh, the Nokia Lumia 800 has taken front and center moving the iPhone to the back.

Sure, most might not even notice but it's still a nice nod to Windows Phone users and the success Nokia is bringing the ecosystem as a whole. It's great to see Hotmail at least acknowledge that much.

Thanks, Patrick, for the heads up!

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IHS iSuppli Mobile & Wireless Communications Service is inclined to believe that Windows Phone will overtake Apple's share of the smartphone market by 2015.  Their projections show Microsoft's market share taking a huge leap from 2011's 1.9% to 9% by the end of this year.  From there, they predict another jump in 2013, where things will level off to slow and steady growth, eventually overtaking Apple's iOS by one tenth of one percent.

IHS gives credit for this rise almost entirely to Nokia, who garnered huge praise for their Lumia 900 at CES and announced their line of 4G phones for the US. 

“One of the hottest new products unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show was the Lumia 900, a Windows Phone-based smartphone sporting a flashy set of features that makes it competitive with the best alternatives offered by the Android camp,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS. “This hot product represents Nokia’s first step to reclaim its market share. Combined with Nokia’s efforts to drive the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem, the Lumia 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim its No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015.”

We've heard this kind of prediction before and remain skeptical, as always.  While it looks like Windows Phone will indeed catch on and become a force in the smartphone market, claims like this should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Source: iSuppli; Thanks, damthman, for the tip yesterday

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If there was an over-hyped technology in late 2011 it was perhaps Apple's Siritheir voice recognition/information application for the iPhone 4s. Now we'll admit that Siri is quite a strong piece of tech one that we wish Windows Phone had built-in in addition to our Bing Voice service, but the marketing machine behind Siri was a tad overwhelming. Then again, there's no denying facts: Bing Voice while pragmatic for certain tasks is still behind Apple's Siri in some ways.

However, developer Shai Leib has given us Windows Phone users an option: Ask Ziggy. The new app is a free, ad-free and as far as we can tell, completely unique. We spoke with Leib about his project and how it works:

"Ask Ziggy uses Speech Recognition to translate human speech into transcribed text, which is displayed in a speech bubble. The transcribed text is analyzed for patterns to detect commands or general queries. Commands are interpreted and routed to routine phone tasks such as emailing, texting, calling, social network updates, and getting directions.

When a general question is asked, a mixture of mash up technologies and web scraping is employed to search the web for relevant responses. Pattern matching is used to summarize a direct answer from a web page. Several passes may be required to find a concise answer. A direct answer is then spoken out loud, and displayed in a speech bubble. When a direct answer cannot be summarized the user is prompted by speech to click on their search bubble to see web search results based on their spoken query."

That's some pretty impressive work for a single developer if you ask us. The actual voice-recognition software is based on Nuance but the data fetching and matching are all his doing. And it works. That's one thing we want to stress here, we didn't find this app gimmicky at all but instead quite useful for mathematical questions, random trivia, posting to our Twitter/Facebook/Live, getting directions, flight status and more. Having the phone read back to you the answer in a clean, minimalist setting makes it feel smart. Heck, it even got our Monty Python question right (see YouTube video).

The version you see in the video is heading to the Marketplace as we speak but you can grab the slightly older version right now. Give it a go--it's free, useful and really quite an extraordinary app. Leib also has a lot of plans to further refine and enhance the experience including expanded speech grammar, multi-language support and even language translations. Check out the Ask Ziggy website here for more info.

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This isn't exactly anything groundbreaking, but it's interesting nonetheless. Christina Tynan-Wood has published an article over at Momster where it's explained how she managed (somewhat accidentally) to turn her son away from Apple, and has bought him a Windows Phone for Christmas. The son's desire for an iPhone stems from friends and the enticing brand which is the big fruit, but this desperation for the iProduct was cut when his mother received a Samsung Focus Flash from Microsoft.

Leaving the device on the counter in the kitchen, the intrigued son picked up the Focus Flash and played around the OS, while checking out the Xbox Live integration. Blown away by how different Windows Phone is, Christina was given a revised Christmas wish list with the iPhone crossed out, replaced by "phone like yours". The main benefits for her son are Xbox Live, Facebook and Metro UI simplicity, but the lack of apps compared to other platforms is also noted.

Head on over to Momster to read the full article.

Source: Momster, thanks Aston for the tip!

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Jon Rettinger of TechnoBuffalo has published a video of himself explaining that he's switched from the iPhone to Windows Phone, and the HTC Titan is now his main handset. One of the main features he loves about the platform (and the device in this case) is the size of the live tiles and content on the massive 4.7" screen. Rettinger's main concern with making the switch (as is with every potential buyer) is the choice of apps on the Marketplace, but goes onto state that every app he required was actually present in the catalogue, or an equivalent available.

Overall he's impressed. What's more is that when Rettinger shows his Titan to other people when out and about, there's generally a positive response, but he notes that the biggest flaw of the system that could be turning away a lot of folk is the attached "Windows" brand. Let's not forget that Microsoft is in a reforming stage, if you will. Closing up, he has no regrets in switching and doesn't look back at the iPhone 4S. Take that Siri.

Source: TechnoBuffalo, thanks Theo 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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Look, we're not going to make a mountain of a mole hill here: we know this video technically doesn't mean much and the developers (the folks behind CarbonWP) also know it's not a real test, but still...it's cool to see.

All it is a push notification sent to both the iPhone and a Windows Phone. Lo and behold, they tie for receiving the message at the same time. Does that make one phone better than the other? Certainly not. But does it make Windows Phone look pretty decent for being able to hold its own against Apple (in this one test)? Sure does. Plus, it makes CarbonWP look pretty sweet too, we suppose.

Anyone else have experiences with the iPhone and Windows Phone receiving notifications? Sound off in comments with your thoughts. Thanks, TechJunky79, for the link!

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The Nokia Lumia 800, which was announced yesterday at Nokia World, was seen featured on BMF TV in 'Geek Culture'. It's compared to the iPhone and is labelled as a "challenger" against Apple's handset by Anicet Mbida. It's good to see the 800 being featured on technology shows so soon after being officially announced with availability and pricing

Via: MonWindowsPhone (translation

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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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Google's User Experience Director for Android, Matias Duarte, said about Windows Phone being too forceful everything into a constrained look and feel. While he says that he offers the web, there's no denying that Metro is a beutiful UI and effectively provides content with no pixels wasted to chrome. Even Android took some pointers from Windows Phone (as well as other platforms).

Steve Ballmer, being the legend that he is (see the above image), has lashed back at Android but praises the iPhone to keep it from being a targeted attack. Ballmer mentioned that Android is simply difficult for the user to get into from the off.

"You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone and you do to use and Android phone ... it is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones."

Android fans have taken what he said the wrong way, which is easy to do with words used. Ballmer is talking about the lack of a central design or theme across apps and the system as a whole. It looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle that is built with odd pieces. iOS has a fluid, chrome rich, interface while Windows Phone is the opposite with content, content, and more content wrapped in Metro lingerie.

This sums it up perfectly:

"Both [an iPhone and a Windows phone] are going to feel very good in your hand and both going to look very beautiful physically, but when you grab a Windows phone and use it your information is front and centre and you don’t have to scroll through seas of icons and blah blah blah."

Ballmer goes on to say that the team understands the launch of more competitively priced handsets is a must, but with the Omnia W pricing announced and Nokia coming up shortly, there might be a short wait. Good on you Ballmer, good on you sir.

Source: The Telegraph

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Last night we reported on how Microsoft was giving away 25 Windows Phones to frustrated Blackberry users (and later expanded to iPhones), who were in the midst of a near worldwide disruption of RIM services. Today, after more than 1,500 well thought out responses to the question "Why do you want a Windows Phone?", twenty-five winners were announced, including their reasons.

Here are the top five:

  1. Jon404: @BenThePCGuy I'm sick of drinking the Apple Kool-aid! I need some Mango to take the taste away ;)
  2. mattymorgs: @BenThePCGuy with #iOS still stuck on its bubbly look from 5 years ago, #windowsphone is the true 'Think Different' of UI style today.
  3. jdnorthwest: @BenThePCGuy As a frustrated #DearBlackberry user I was shopping the Bellevue @MicrosoftStore yesterday for a #windowsphone
  4. sweeneyben: @BenThePCGuy #DearBlackberry my Storm2 was great if I went back in time, but is so outdated, with poor service. I want to go back to Windows
  5. joegaus: @BenThePCGuy i want a #windowsphone because only Beyoncé Knowles' beauty can compare to those DAMN SEXY LIVETILES

What's even better is Microsoft via Ben Rudolph, will be giving away a Windows Phone once per month using the same criteria: send a story about why you want (or need) a Windows Phone. Then, they'll turn that story into a blog post on the Windows Phone Blog. Seems like a decent enough idea!

Congrats to all the winners! We hope you enjoy your new OS, in fact we know you will!

Read more at the Windows Phone Blog.

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High quality humorous wallpapers

Some humorous iPhone wallpapers have been cropped over at 1800PocketPC and are ready to fit any Windows Phone. As you can see from the above sample, they look superb and are well work checking out. Glenn is the freelance graphic designer and illustrator from Auckland, New Zealand, who is behind the designs and sells amusing shirts, among other miscellaneous items. Check out his store for the free wallpaper downloads.

Source: Glennz, via: 1800PocketPC

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Apple announced the iPhone 4S today, which millions of hipsters and fruit fanatics will be lining up to purchase on October 14. Does the new iPhone threaten to stall Windows Phone’s rise to the smartphone big leagues? In some ways, yes. Whenever the competition rolls out a new product line, that’s always cause for concern. In the following editorial I’ll spell out the different areas that Apple has me worried. Just don’t forget that I absolutely love Windows Phone and I’d sooner give up one of Rich Edmond's kidneys than live without it.

Head past the break to find out in which areas the iPhone 4S may have current Windows Phones beaten.

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HTC: iPhones are for old people

Now this is pretty interesting, acting president of HTC America, Martin Fichter, said that the Apple iPhone is for old folk at the Mobile Future Forward conference in Seattle. Fichter took an informal survey at his daughter's domitory to see what her friends thought of the iPhone:

"None of them has an iPhone. 'My dad has an iPhone.' There’s an interesting thing that’s going on in the market. The iPhone becomes a little less cool than it was. They were carrying HTCs. They were carrying Samsungs. They were even carrying some Chinese manufacturer’s devices."

While many will dispute this with the iPhone being cool and trendy, I must say that it can be accurate, depending as to where you live. I remember commuting to work daily; bankers and businessmen on the train had iPhones, young women had Blackberries and everyone else had Android handsets. A large proportion of school girls use Blackberry devices, for BBM more than anything else.

What do you think? Are iPhones loosing its 'cool' for the young market?

Source: Mashable

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Brandon Watson betting $1,000 on WP7

 

Brandon Watson, Senior Director of Windows Phone 7 development, is bringing out the big guns by staking $1,000 on Mango. Scott Adams, author of popular comic strip Dilbert, in a recent blog post has expressed disappointment in both the iPhone and with Android. Watson saw the opportunity and dropped a bombshell of an offer:

"Scott -

My name is Brandon Watson and I am responsible for the developer platform on Windows Phone. Since your readership has a high probability of cross over with our developer base, how about I make you a deal with one of the phones we reserve for developers. Take Windows Phone for a spin. I’ll send you a developer phone with the new Mango OS on it. Give it an honest run, and if you don’t love it more than either of your iPhone or Android experiences, I’ll make a $1000 donation to the charity of your choice. You can’t really lose on this deal.

Do we have 500K apps? No. Do we have 25K, growing as fast as iPhone did, and 2x as fast as Android? Yes. Do developers love the dev environment? Uh huh. Do we have the only phone that puts people and communications first? You bet. If Androids dream of electronic iSheep, people dream about people – and that’s what you will get with Windows Phone. Keep in constant contact with those most important to you with Live Tiles, groups, messaging threads, and native Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And no special instructions on how to hold the phone to make calls. Oh, and the battery lasts a long time.

I can be reached at ThePhone [at] microsoft. You can call me if you want – 425-985-5568. Windows Phone devs will tell you that’s the right contact info, because it’s shared with every one of them.

I hope you take me up on this one…there’s no reason to hate your phone."

Should Adams take this offer up, he will receive a free Mango developer device (presumably with Twitter integration) and will give the platform a test run to determine whether or not he enjoys the experience compared to competitors. If the results are positive then great. If not, Watson will donate $1,000 to a charity of his choice.

The head of Windows Phone didn't stop there as he set sights on Molly Wood, CNET reporter, on Twitter who was/is experiencing some issues with her Droid. Hopefully this work will pay off, especially if we look at a recent customer satisfaction survey that puts WP7 above Andorid. Social media has a good-will category 'Social Good', we now have 'WP7 Good'. Bravo Watson.

Source: Scott's blog, via: WinRumors

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Browser wars are always fun. Not because they are definitive or slam dunk tests that once and for all decide which is the best browser, but because they induce so much chest thumping about standards, specs and specific environments for testing. It's like saying your football team is the best--sure it may or may not be true, but sometimes it's fun to throw the war paint on and act like it is.

In this case, Derek Snyder of Microsoft demonstrates once again the famous "HTML5 fish test" (see MIX 11), comparing it between a BlackBerry, Samsung Android Charge and an iPhone 4. And once again, Windows Phone Mango clearly beats everyone, coming in at an astounding 50 FPS. But what makes this test more interesting is the fact that the iPhone 4 is running the iOS5 beta 3 (just released) which puts Apple's "fall update" up against Microsoft's "fall update", making it a more realistic comparison.

Your move, Apple. 

Source: WMPU

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