OEM

This morning LG Electronics reported to the Korea Herald that they have no immediate plans to introduce new Windows Phone to the market. Instead LG are focusing on Android for their future smartphone releases noting that "The total unit of Windows Phone sold in the global market is not a meaningful figure."

The company claimed that the partnership between it and Microsoft remains good but the plan to focus on Windows Phone, announced in 2009, has not worked out for them financially. LG ended up losing money for seven straight quarters and only recently turned a profit. As a result they lost a lot of market share, especially with HTC and Samsung having a winning portfolio of Android devices.

Regarding Windows Phone specifically, a spokesperson for the company told the Herald that they will “continue research and development efforts” on Microsoft's mobile OS.

This news comes on the heels of an announcement of Steve Ballmer headed to Seoul Digital Forum on May 22 where he will be meeting with various business and developers. Though LG claims to not know his business schedule the implication is that Ballmer may meet with LGE for some damage control regarding their recent smartphone decision.

One can claim that LGs offerings for Windows Phone have been extremely lackluster with only the LG Quantum (review), limited to AT&T and a few regional carriers, showing any real innovation. And despite being only one of two hard-keyboard Windows Phone devices it never sold well anywhere. Even the LG Jil Sander phone was a bomb having its price constantly cut, in fact when we got our hands on it we panned the phone as feeling cheap and unexciting.

While prototype devices like the E740 remain floating around (we'll have our mini-review of it later today), the phone is a far cry from anything interesting and would do nothing for LG or Windows Phone were it to be released. It's one unique feature, NFC, has very little support in most major markets in 2012.

Clearly LG is facing stiff competition, poor R&D and they are feeling the pressure from the Microsoft-Nokia partnership which they commented on in 2011. Perhaps they will use this to leverage a favorable deal from Microsoft if Ballmer meets with them later in May. While it could look bad to lose a major OEM like LG, we're not exactly too saddened either.

Clearly Nokia, HTC and Samsung are the future of Windows Phone.

Source: Korea Herald

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The handset maker Huawei, or "Who are we?" - no one seems to know when it comes to Windows Phone, was supposed to be revealing new Windows Phones for China with Microsoft's recent Windows Phone launch in the country, according to a report by Digitimes. Unfortunately this fruit never ripened and we were left wandering whether or not the company had dropped support for the platform.

Fast-forward a few months and WPDang is now attempting to shed some light on the situation of the OEM. According to the site's sources, Huawei has been distracted by their Android (go figure) expansion programme and has either had little motivation or man power to push forward with Windows Phone development. This would explain why they've been a no-show with the China platform launch.

Not all is doom and gloom though, as the Chinese website also reports that the manufacturer has since turned things around and now sports a Windows Phone development team consisting of over 70 engineers. Huawei is also allegedly working closely with Microsoft in the states that puts the manufacturer aiming for Windows Phone 8. But if "Apollo" wasn't enough, WPDang also highlights the possible Windows 8 tablet (with LTE support) which will surely please those Lumia 900 / TITAN II speed freaks.

Should this information hold out to be reality, and Huawei is actively developing Windows Phone 8 handsets / Windows 8 tablets, it'll be interesting to see the next step from the OEM.

Source: WPDang, via: WPSauce

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It would appear that mobile operators in Europe aren't impressed with what Nokia (and Windows Phone as a whole) has to offer to battle Google and Apple in the market. According to Reuters, four operators have stated that Nokia handsets have not been 'good enough' to compete with the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.

One operator executive (who wished to remain anonymous) had the following to say:

"No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone. Nokia have given themselves a double challenge: to restore their credibility in terms of making hardware smartphones and succeed with the Microsoft Windows operating system, which lags in the market."

Now, we'll be the first to agree with the fact that not many customers will walk into a store and ask for a Windows Phone as the platform hasn't had the promotion or momentum that it so desperately requires. Microsoft has started their Smoked by Windows Phone campaign in a number of countries to build this momentum to a respectable pace, and Nokia has been hard at work with "The Amazing Everyday" and hosting live events. Cue "Rolling Thunder"? The trouble is there's just too much to do.

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Well, well, well. Colour us surprised (pun intended) with what the above image could point to, but if it holds true we could see the Executive Caddie heading to the Nokia Collection of OEM apps. Of course, should this happen, we'd expect to see the original app remain available for all Windows Phone owners, but it would be interesting to see unique variants of the app (available for free) tied to which Lumia 900 you purchase.

Executive Caddie is a popular golf app on the Windows Phone Marketplace, and rightfully so as it's quite simply gorgeous. Functionality includes highly accurate golf course database, on-course GPS and scorecard functionality (for up to four golfers). Reviews have been positive from users and it has been with us since the beginning (released in December 2010). Microsoft has reportedly given the developers the nod with eligibility for a "Showcase App" promotion. It would seem as though Nokia has caught wind of this positive aura.

The above photo shows two Lumia 900s running Executive Caddie with a unique theme / colour scheme that matches the device pigmentation. The Lumia 800 in the middle is using the default app that's currently available on the Marketplace. Could we be seeing exclusive versions of the app hitting the Nokia Collection or just an updated version? Could well be, and perhaps there'll be a few extra features thrown in for good measure.

On a humorous side note: someone rescue the poor Lumia 800 being patronised by size sitting in the middle. Executive Caddie is available on the Markeplace for free (usually $29.99), which has had its price tag slashed since Christmas.

Thanks Michael for the heads up and the image!

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Microsoft has supposedly been urged by supporting Taiwanese manufacturers to allow them to modify apps and the Windows Phone UI to better differentiate their handsets from OEM competition on the platform, according to a report by DigiTimes. We recommend taking this 'news' with a whole bowl of salt as they have a mixed track record e.g. their Huawei story was way off, but should the report be based on solid grounds HTC, Nokia and Samsung have seen flat sales in both China and the U.S.

We're aware that Nokia hasn't launched the AT&T Lumia 900 yet and Windows Phone is still extremely young in China so we're pretty skeptical about this report. It doesn't make sense that OEMs would start to suggest to Microsoft that more customisation should be allowed to improve sales as Nokia appears to be doing just fine with marketing campaigns running globally.

Manufacturers can't remain under the "Android Personalisation" craze as Windows Phone is an entirely different flavour of ice-cream. Canadian carriers Rogers and TELUS have also both stated they're pleased with how well the Lumia 710 and 800 are selling, and that the Nokia Windows Phones have hit expectations.

What do you guys think OEMs should do with Windows Phone? More marketing / promotion like Nokia, or should we be allowing them to personalise what they wish?

Source: DigiTimes, via: WMPU

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This certainly wont be surprising to our readers (since we cover the global Nokia marketing campaign regularly) or anyone else who's in the loop when it comes to Windows Phone, but it would appear as though Nokia has grabbed the #1 spot for platform manufacturer marketshare according to Strategy Analytics, which runs alongside developers publishing statistics indication a climb in Lumia 800 usage.

The Finnish handset maker achieved the number one position with 33% marketshare in just four months, since the launch of the Lumia 800 in Europe. The Lumia family of Windows Phones has not only taken the platform by storm but also the world, and to illustrate this design appreciation the 800 received a number of awards at CES 2012.

Check out the chart below for an approximation for Windows Phone OEM marketshare.

Source: Strategy Analytics, via: Engadget; Original Crown image via ShutterStock

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We reported on Chinese device maker Huawei way back in December 2010 as a possible OEM for Windows Phone and the untapped market in China. Fast forward to early 2012 and Microsoft is reportedly "weeks" from a launch there, this time with Nokia leading the way. Now we're getting word via Digitimes that Huawei has finally committed to Windows Phone and will be bringing devices to China during the 1st half of 2012.

What's really interesting is the fact that Microsoft was reportedly trying to secure a patent deal with Huawei for their Android tablets back in November. Rumors have circulated that Microsoft in these negotiations tries to get Windows Phone leverage as an outcome and we think we're now seeing the fruits of their labor.

Source: DigitimesImage credit via Shutterstock

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LG has been in the spotlight recently with leaks of the upcoming LG Fantasy/Miracle (passing through FCC) coming to light, and now the OEM has released three more apps for consumers to download from the Marketplace. Those who own LG Windows Phones can now get their hands on NowCaster, Winny Toolbox and Winny & Friends (the last two are aimed at the younger ages).

NowCaster is a useful app that users can fire up when waking up to the world, which will read out your calendar, the latest weather forecast, as well as other news and reports out loud. The app's usefulness is restricted to those moments when you're occupied but require to check out said information (driving, cooking, etc.).

Winny Toolbox is an app full of tools that children would find valuable with a comprehensive unit converter (energy, angle, pressure, weight, volume, temperature, etc.), time/date calculator, sales price calculator, clothes size converter, random number generator, to name just a few. Though the app is designed for children, I'm sure adults could also put a handful of the tools to good use.

Finally, Winny and Friends enables children to have amusing fun with their Windows Phone by taking photos and editing them with overlays, etc. Not only that, but there are cartoon characters that come alive when tapping on the screen, perfect for younger children.

To download these apps, head on over to LG's collection of OEM apps on the Marketplace.

Via: Professeur Thibault

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Paul Thurrott has stamped his mark on some information regarding the upcoming expenditure the software giant is set to embark on in the Sates. The details allegedly come from internal Microsoft documentation. Windows Phone has been failing when it comes to retailers and carrier stores, not just in the U.S., but on a global scale and it's a huge mountain to climb to get to a level playing field with competitor platforms. We covered the report today, which BetaNews published, that pointed to the Nokia Ace receiving "hero" status on AT&T. Not only that, but $100 million was said to be going into the marketing kitty.

Thurrott has now "corrected" information published by BetaNews, announcing that Microsoft and co. will be looking to unleash not $100 million, but $200 million marketing and promoting the platform. We're already aware that the plan for all companies involved with Windows Phone are looking to spend large sums of money, especially Nokia with CEO Elop commenting that they're "game". HTC, Samsung (among other OEMs) will also be set to increase budgeting for advertising, much like what we've witnessed across Europe with newspaper adverts and more.

Thurrott also moves on to state that retail sales staff are set to receive incentives (as part of the massive budget) for moving handsets from the shelves and into consumer hands.

"The amount of payments are $10 to $15 per handset sold, depending on the number sold, for some handset models."

This all makes sense and is pretty much what we're all expecting the companies to roll on. But remember though; Mr Thurrott is the gentleman that stated we wouldn't be getting Mango until 2012, so take this information as you see fit.

Source: WindowsITPro

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Nokia has already showed off their exclusive ESPN sports hub at Nokia World, and now they're set to offer World Rally Championship fans an app too. This free app will enable Nokia users to keep track of the latest happenings of the event, calendar, maps and videos. This should not come as a surprise since Nokia announced a partnership with the FIA WRC, and is also a listed sponsor.

Nokia owners can download the WRC Live app from the Marketplace for free.

Source: 1800PocketPC

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There's been a lot of speculation on when exactly Windows Phone "Mango" will launch--or even what that means exactly. The reason it is a questions is because there are device upgrades, there are device launches and there's no reason to think the two are tied together. Hence we've seen September 1st, August 25th and the vague "this fall" all thrown around and in fact, they're most likely all true for specific situations.

Microsoft's marketing chief for Scandinavia, Peter Wissinger has taken to Facebook to clarify the "Mango" launch. In short he tells WinMobile.se that it is completely up to the OEMs to decide the timeline for launch of the next-generation of Mango devices. In fact, as has been speculated, Microsoft came out ahead of schedule this time with "Mango' which is why OEMs, who just received the RTM version, may seem a little behind--perhaps they weren't prepared to have it all ready this early (although Fujitsu seems prepared).

Of course in the US, OEMs still have the FCC and carriers to deal with before launching a device, making the situation more complicated. We're expecting a similar style to last years launch: announcement in October, availability (on AT&T, at least) a few weeks later with numerous devices.

Source: Facebook; via WinMobile.se

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Just as we were lamenting Motorola Mobility's position on using Windows Phone (and their stock situation), Google comes out of nowhere and buys them up out for $12.5 billion. From the press release they mention how they want to "...supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open."

Although Motorola is a dedicated manufacturer of Android devices, they also happen to have something that Google really wants--namely a large patent portfolio. Remember, Moto for all intents and purposes invented the cell phone back in the day resulting in a large arsenal of patents that Google can finally wield in defense of Android (seeing as that OS is evidently build on stolen IP). That's something that they will have to do a lot of as Microsoft is currently suing Motorola Mobility over patent infringement, meaning now they are suing Google over the same issue. That court case should get interesting, to say the least.

Google's Andy Rubin states that they remain committed to still working with other partners, although this obviously puts HTC in an odd position--they're not Microsoft's exclusive partner anymore and neither are they Google's. Various OEM partners have publicly come out in support of the deal, notably LG, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson even HTC paying lip-service with the same paraphrase of "We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.” although you wonder what they have to be saying privately about the deal.

The big question is what does this actually mean? Too early to tell though clearly Google is stepping up things against Apple and to a lesser extent Microsoft. Apple already has the hardware thing down and Microsoft now has Nokia in their corner. As to our thoughts? We'll gladly take our Nokia deal over Motorola any day.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Official Google Blog; via AndroidCentral 1, 2

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N9 launch to clash with Mango?

While the next Windows Phone major update is rapidly approaching, Nokia have still wrapped their N9 running MeeGo in a cloud of not-releasing-any-information. Orange Switzerland has published a release date for the handset (as shown in the image above) of Spetember 15th. This goes with 3 stating that they promise the N9 will be with the carrier by September 23rd. 

What has this got to do with WP7 or the "Mango" update? Well, we're currently looking at a September rollout of new devices from the platform-backed OEMs, including Nokia - not to mention Apple is apparently looking at September too for the iPhone 5. Should the release of the N9 coincide with the launch of the upcoming Nokia "Mango" handset this could cause a clash and potentially dissolve hype for either device (probably the N9 in this case with the sheer volume of Mango devices unveiling).

Of course, no official word has been given by Nokia as to the release date they're looking at for the N9, but it will be interesting should the iPhone 5, the N9 and "Mango" mobile phones all pop up at once, truly giving consumers a selection. The first "Mango" device is set to be released this month in Japan, the Fujitsu-Toshiba IS12T (specifications).

Source: Engadget, via: ElectricPig

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Stephen Elop on WP7 at Uplinq 2011

We've recently been following (from a distance of course) Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, to find out as much as possible with the Microkia partnership, and how this could affect both users of Windows Phone 7 and Symbian. We've already covered how Nokia are looking to take a customised approach to WP7, add some features for both carriers and users, while bringing specialised hardware to the table in Q4. Stephen was at Uplinq 2011 and was talking about how Nokia have a focus on WP7 as opposed to other OEMs.

We must first get the news out in the open that Nokia will be working closely with Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson on their upcoming handsets (no plans have been scrapped yet), which we covered a while ago when the CEO of ST-Ericsson, Carlo Bozotti, spilled some beans that they would be one of two chipset suppliers for Nokia. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and how Nokia plans to out-do other OEMs with their "focus". 

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We spoke with someone from Microsoft about the touchy issue of why Dell was left off of the above slide--was it a small acknowledgement that Dell won't be making anymore Windows Phones? That the leaked road-map from a few months ago was now invalid?

Turns out, it's probably more innocent than sinister. We were told directly "don't read too much into it" and to "stay tuned". We took that, especially the latter part, that Dell was certainly still on board and in fact, that we'll see some new Dell hardware this summer as Microsoft continues to draw out this Mango preview.

So as Microsoft said, stay tuned on this Dell rumor...

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This is more eye candy than anything else. The chart above states the obvious with HTC owning the WP7 marketshare (along with everything else) by releasing a horde of products. Samsung closely follows behind, surprising since they only offer a single device in America and Europe (Focus and Omnia 7 respectively) - albeit both devices are popular. ASUS is shown to have the smallest chunk of strawberry pie with their limited deployment along with Dell (although is Dell's position down to the hardware/software blunders?).

The chart below shows a device breakdown of popularity, HD7 being the most commonly owned product, followed by the Omnia 7, whey Europe! interesting to see how the hype of each product introduction correlates to the popularity post-deployment. Please note that these charts are estimates only and are by no means accurate.

Source: AdGAC, via: MobileTechWorld

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Although we've seen quite a few OEM apps ripped from their exclusive hardware (see Samsung, LG) there was one HTC app that proved extremely difficult: YouTube HD.

The app had unique tie ins to the hardware and some real custom programming that made ripping a functional app impossible. However, it has finally been done by Tom Hounsell, who's been very big on the XDA seen and led the charge on making these apps available for all (who have a developer unlocked device).

So what changed? HTC evidently "...did the kind thing and removed all the breaking code from the old version" as Hounsell informs us in a Tweet. So does HTC want us to rip these? We doubt it, instead it was probably done to just make things easier. Regardless, we loaded it up on our LG Quantum and had no issues running it, making it a great addition, much to HTC's probable disapproval.

Source: @tomhounsell

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LG may be hot on Android, but we'll still go to bat for them by saying they offer the best free software of any Windows Phone OEM. We covered their Augmented Reality software (Metro Scanner)and Voice to Text earlier, and just a few days ago they pushed out four new solid titles:

  • Today - Local weather, forecast, news feed, Twitter and currency
  • Weather & Clock - Local weather, "away" weather + clock and world map
  • QR Reader - a live scanning QR reader
  • Post Note - note + cork-board

While a little slow to load, the apps are certainly gorgeous looking in our opinion. Sure, a Live Tile would have been nice, but we think the Today app beats out Samsung's and HTC's offerings easily. Likewise, the QR Reader with live scanning is certainly great and combined with ScanSearch (live scanning barcode), it's quite the powerful combo. Finally, Post Note just looks real pretty but similar to HTC's Notes.

All can be grabbed for free in the LG app store but only on your LG phone, of course.

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Say what you want about LG but their custom Windows Phone software is hands down the best of all the OEMs today. Between offering $30 worth of apps for free (including the amazing Weave) and their homemade stuff like Voice to Text, ScanSearch and Metro Scanner (and a bunch of other tools, like panoramic camera), they really offer quite the one-two punch to HTC and Samsung.

ScanSearch and Metro Scanner are great because they are so-called augmented reality apps. Basically they take advantage of the phone's accelerometer, compass and camera to show you things you can't see, like bars, restaurants, or in the case of Metro Scanner, subway stations in your local city.

Metro Scanner works "world wide" and while we couldn't vouch for that it did a swell job in New York City. You launch the app, it grabs a GPS fix (can take a few seconds, though it has a progress bar, natch) and then it shows you where the nearest subway is in relation to you. Holding the phone flat  gives you a map with compass, holding it up uses the camera to show you where it is as if you could see through all the buildings. Tapping the station gives you directions.

Metro Scanner was just updated to v1.2 to fix a compass bug and all we have to say about the app is that it's pretty darn cool, LG. Our next hope? Microsoft releases those camera and compass APIs so 3rd party developers like Layar can join in on the fun.

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Digitimes is reporting that numerous Taiwanese phone manufactures such as Foxconn, Compal Communications, Pegatron Technology, Qisda, Inventec, Inventec Appliances and Arima Communication, are not yet jumping on Windows Phone 7 but rather are sticking with Android, for now.

The reason given is a combination of licensing fees and current levels of investment in the Android OS as barriers for entry for them. Of course, money talks and if Windows Phone 7 is a big hit, we imagine these companies will come on board.

For the casual reader, companies like Foxconn, Compal and Inventec are far from familiar names in the U.S. That's because such companies in the past have often been behind the scenes, having been hired to build devices for the likes of HP, Palm (Treo line) and Apple (iPhone). Recently, many of those companies have tried the go-it-alone approach to break free from this role, much like HTC did years ago. So far though they have made little traction in Western markets, meaning much of this "news" is inconsequential at the moment.

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