Microsoft may be attacking the low-end and midrange smartphone markets using a new Windows Phone 8 reference design for OEMs.
The semi-accurate DigiTimes said on Friday that Microsoft is currently working with Qualcomm and other chipset suppliers to develop a Windows Phone 8 reference design. Unnamed industry sources claim this design will be used for entry-level and mid-range smartphones that will be sold in China and other emerging markets.
Sources told the site that Qualcomm will likely jump on board the reference design bandwagon because it's already supplying chipset solutions for Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.5-based devices currently on the market. MediaTek, known for producing inexpensive chipsets, will also likely join the reference club due to its strong business ties with China-based smartphone OEMs, and its prior experience with Windows Mobile-based reference designs.
The new Windows Phone 8 reference design should help Microsoft expand the ecosystem and market share of its new mobile platform, sources said, even though Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE have already announced Windows Phone 8 products for 2013. The reference design itself is expected to arrive in mid-2013, and products based on that design in the second half of the year.
As UnwiredView points out, Huawei's Ascend W1 is priced around $260 USD whereas Nokia's Lumia 620 costs around $300 USD. With the new reference design, Microsoft will want to shoot lower than the $200 price tag so that the resulting phones will have a better chance of competing with the low-cost Android smartphones saturating the market.
That said, Microsoft's reference design may actually address the low-end and mid-range sectors on a global scale, not just the emerging markets.