New York - Microsoft promoted the launch of the first three smartphones shipping with the new Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) OS at a Herald Square outdoor event that kicks off a six-week tour designed to familiarize consumers with the OS.
The three new phones, in stores today at prices ranging from $49 to $199, are the first 4G HSPA+ Windows phones available in the U.S., and they will be the first Windows phones to be supported by TV ads placed by handset manufacturers, the company said. Handset suppliers are more actively promoting Windows Phones now because they are more confident about the OS's prospects a year after the launch of the first Windows Phone 7 smartphones, Microsoft Windows Phone division president Andy Lees told TWICE. The first wave of phones generated great reviews, high customer satisfaction rates and low return rates, he said.
The three new phones, previously announced without prices or specific availability dates, are the $49 Samsung Focus Flash for AT&T, the $99 HTC Radar 4G for T-Mobile, and the $199 Samsung Focus S for AT&T. The availability and ship date of the HTC Titan 4G for AT&T will be announced "shortly" by AT&T, Lees said.
The Windows executive declined to say when new Windows 7.5 phones would be launched for U.S. CDMA carriers. Earlier this year, CDMA carriers Sprint and Verizon launched 3G CDMA Windows Phone 7 smartphones.
To support the new Windows Phone 7.5 devices, Microsoft is launching a series of two-day Night Markets with live bands in five cities to familiarize general consumers with the smartphone OS's capabilities and ease of use, said Bill Cox, senior communications director of the Windows Phone division. The consumer promotions will be the first such promotions aimed at general consumers who aren't using Windows-based phones rather than to user-group members or "super-users" involved in the Windows Phone community, he said.
The first of the five two-night events start here, today.
Over the next six weeks, the company will host similar one-night events in 20 more cities, all at nightclubs, bars or restaurants.
The events were promoted through Facebook and Twitter.
With the launch of Windows Phone 7.5 phones in the U.S. and other countries, Lees said he expects Windows share to grow in part because of availability at a broader range of price points. Almost all of the Windows Phone 7 phones introduced late last year and this year, in contrast, were priced at $199.
Windows share will also grow, he told TWICE, because of new OS features such as Cloud-based backup, the addition of Nokia to the Windows family, the addition of more radio standards for use in more countries, greater promotional activity by handset makers and the planned purchase of Motorola by Android OS inventor Google.
Current BlackBerry users are also looking for a new home, said Cox.
In its first year of the Windows Phone 7 OS, Lees noted, more Windows-based phones were sold compared to Android phones in the first year of Android's availability. About 2.2 million Android phones were sold in Android's first year, he said.
Besides supporting 4G HSPA+ technology for the first time, many of the new phones also sport other upgrades compared to the first wave of Windows Phone 7 phones. Samsung's Focus Flash and Focus S for AT&T, for example, feature 1.4GHz processors, and the planned HTC Titan for AT&T features a 1.5GHz processor.
Lees is optimistic about 7.5's chances even though the new iPhone 4S sports 1GHz dual-core processor and other new Android phones sport 1.2GHz and 1.5GHz dual-core processors. He pointed to Windows Phone's graphics accelerator processor, contending the new $49 Windows phone will offer smoother graphics and faster HTML5 processing than dual-core Androids phones. A graphics processor "gives the user the most amount of perceived performance," he said. "If you balance performance, battery life and other aspects, in many cases we will give you a far better experience," he added.
The three new Windows phones available today include AT&T's $199 Samsung Focus S with a 1.4GHz processor, 4.3-inch 480 by 800 capacitive touchscreen, 16GB of memory, 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front camera, HD video capture, more than six hours of talk time and a 119-gram weight.
The $99 HTC Radar for T-Mobile features a 1GHz processor, 3.8-inch 480x800 screen, 8GB of memory, more than seven hours of talk time, 5-megapixel rear camera, VGA front camera and a 137-gram weight.
The $49 Samsung Focus Flash for AT&T features a 1.4GHz processor, 3.7-inch 480 by 800 screen, 8GB of memory, HD video capture, rear 5-megapixel camera, VGA front camera, more than six hours of talk time and a 115-gram weight.
The planned HTC Titan for AT&T, due sometime this year at an unannounced price, features a 1.5GHz processor, 4.7-inch 480 by 800 screen, 16GB of memory, 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, HD video capture, more than seven hours of talk time and a 137-gram weight.
All existing Windows Phone 7 phones around the world were given a Windows Phone 7.5 update during a 30-day period ending Oct. 27, the company noted.
New Windows Phone 7.5 phones will be unleashed in multiple waves, in contrast to the first Windows Phone launch 11 months ago in which nine different phones were announced in one day for availability in late 2010 in more than 30 countries. The new strategy is designed to meet carrier and vendor schedules and needs, said Cox.