With Apple having made a splash on the mobile and smartphone industry, it’s nearly expected that Microsoft would eventually jump in at some point for a piece of the pie.
Microsoft’s answer to those expecting some sort of phone--even a Zune phone--are met with denials that the company is working on such a product. An analyst at Broadpoint AmTech, however, believes that we could be seeing a phone product from Microsoft sometime in the next six months. He even goes as far to say that it’ll be powered by Nvidia’s Tegra technology.
The fact that Nvidia Tegra is geared towards powering the Windows Mobile platform already means that the chip company is already working with Microsoft on certain design specifications, particularly for the next versions of the mobile OS.
So far only HTC has committed itself to Nvidia Tegra, but the Broadpoint analyst believes Microsoft will be next: "We believe the HTC ramp in '09 is the more material of the two as we have some concerns on the channel for Microsoft's handset distribution given the lack of prior carrier relationships/handset qualification history," he wrote Thursday, according to CNet.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that it could be a three-way partnership between Nvidia, Microsoft and HTC in bringing a Microsoft-branded smartphone to market. HTC’s already shown that it can work closely with other companies to bring out specialized handsets--something we saw with the (deep breath) T-Mobile HTC G1 Google Android phone.
Microsoft adherent Mary-Jo Foley wrote in her All About Microsoft blog that her sources are pointing to the Redmond company making a reference design for other manufacturers follow and improve upon--but Microsoft itself won’t be releasing the hardware under its own brand.
“The (Zune phone) chassis 1 spec is challenging the manufacturers to come up with something that will please customers,” said Foley’s source, adding that Microsoft was pitting a handful of cell-phone makers against one another to come up with the best implementation of the spec.
With Dell, Acer and Asus/Garmin already plotting to release smartphones, it would be unlike Microsoft to try to seize a part of the market. As far as a Microsoft-centric smartphone that goes beyond just running Windows Mobile, it’s not a question of if, but how and when.