Windows Phone 7: Some Will Win, Some Will Lose

Windows Phone 7 phones made their debut this week and ship next month. Who will benefit and who will sing the blues? Here are five likely winners and losers.

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Thu, October 14, 2010

CIO — Microsoft has owned the tech conversation this week after its announcement of Windows Phone 7 — a complete mobile rebirth for Microsoft with technology that looks nothing like the previous version of Windows Mobile.

A major aspect of that conversation: Does WP7 have a chance to make inroads in a market dominated by established players Apple (AAPL), RIM and Google (GOOG).

WP7 phones will roll out in 10 different models on 60 carriers in 30 countries, impressive numbers for a mobile OS that is, for all intents and purposes, brand new. The main WP7 hardware makers are Samsung, HTC and LG; the first WP7 phones in the U.S. are due to arrive in November from AT&T and T-Mobile.

But after the dust clears and the WP7 ad campaign message sinks in (less is more!), how will the mobile landscape change?

Slideshow: Windows Phone 7: Images, Tech Specs on 10 Upcoming WP7 Smartphones
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Technology analyst firm J. Gold Associates concludes that Microsoft has taken a huge but necessary risk with WP7 and its influence will loom large. There will be big winners, and some even bigger losers, according to a report from firm founder Jack Gold.

The Windows Phone 7 Winners

Users Who Want a Consistent OS Across Brands: Windows Phone 7 users will have the same user interface and the same version of the OS, no matter if it's a Samsung, HTC or LG phone. In contrast, Droid phones often run different versions of Android depending on the phone you buy. While OS fragmentation is a common criticism of Android-based phones, Microsoft is avoiding this by demanding consistency from hardware partners.

Qualcomm (QCOM): With WP7, Microsoft dictated the hardware that all the manufacturers must use. This could be a windfall for Qualcomm because Microsoft chose the company's Snapdragon 1GHz chip to run in WP7 phones.

"If WP7 does well, Qualcomm stands to sell tens of millions of its Snapdragon chips, and cement its substantial lead in powering the smartphone market," writes Gold.

Xbox Gamers: Any gamers developing for Xbox will have a direct and easy path to WP7 phones by using Microsoft XNA (Xbox Native Architecture) . Direct connections to Xbox Live on the phones could greatly benefit game companies and gamers, writes Gold.

Facebook Fanatics: For social networking nuts, WP7 phones have a background push/sync technology that allows for easier access to Facebook updates from the home screen. All smartphones offer connectivity to Facebook and other social media sites, but not with the up-to-date immediacy provided by the WP7 interface.

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