Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Division, explained Microsoft's new smartphone strategy earlier at Nokia's press conference.
At the present time, WP7 trails Android and iOS in terms of market share by a decent figure, but Microsoft still has ambitions to be number one or two within the next couple of years. To that end, the minimal hardware specifications for WP7 have been lowered. According to Terry, the requirement is now a SoC with performance greater than or equal to Qualcomm's 800 MHz 7x27A S1 Snapdragon and 256 MB of RAM. This increases Microsoft's potential customer base by 60 percent.
Microsoft's announcement ties in perfectly with Nokia's Lumia 610 release, which is purportedly going to retail for between $100 and $150. However, this won't be the only budget oriented WP7-based smartphone. In our discussions with Microsoft, we were clearly told that more will be launched soon.
This is a better strategy in our opinion. Microsoft can't expect to only play for the high-end smartphone market. In order for WP7 to be truly successful, it must be adopted by the wider public.
Wide Family of 1.0 GHz + WP7-based Smartphones
We're still not sure now feasible this strategy will be in the long term. While the Lumia 610 has an attractive price tag, it also is a little slow when hammered with high processing tasks. For example, input lag exceeds 300 ms if you if you try to scroll an app when it starts up. This is a phenomenon we first noticed on the Lumia 710, but it applies much more to the 610's reduced hardware performance profile.
Hopefully, Microsoft is able to make further optimizations to compensate for the lowered hardware requirements of WP7. While it's appealing to pay less, we don't think that should come at the expense of a snappy and fast Metro interface.