Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and LG have launched Windows-based phones, but a series of recent announcements by Asian phone makers has given Microsoft Corp. (Seattle, WA, U.S.) a sharper edge.
South Korea-based Samsung introduced its first Windows-powered smartphone earlier this year, becoming the second branded phone company to sell cellular phones powered by Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software in America after Motorola Inc. (Schaumburg, IL, U.S.).
Samsung’s domestic peer LG Electronics Inc. will join the Microsoft camp by launching a smartphone later this year.
And Taiwan’s MiTAC International Corp. and High Tech Computer Corp. are preparing similar models.
Analysts said smartphones operating Windows are a natural extension for Taiwan’s contract electronics manufacturers, who make computers for big U.S. brand names, and already have a relationship with Microsoft.
One such company, MiTAC, has shipped around 40,000 smartphones since June and will launch 10 models next year in the hope of boosting sales of its handsets four to five times.
High Tech Computer expects its wireless products, including smartphones, to make up 40 percent of its sales by the end of this year.
"The market is in an infant stage but its growth potential is very big in the coming years on rising demand for data services like picture messaging," said Martin Liu, a spokesman at High Tech Computer.
The company started making smartphones last year, becoming the first to launch a Windows-based device with a handset it made for European wireless operator Orange SA. The latest version of that phone was rated "the best smartphone so far" by Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
Eddie Wu, a director at Microsoft’s device solutions unit in Asia, said the company is hopeful of finding further partners in Taiwan.
Fujitsu Ltd., which makes handsets for Japan’s top operator, NTT DoCoMo Inc., said it is unlikely that it will drop its support for Symbian soon.
"We will probably keep using Symbian at least for the time being. Its operating system is dependable and has a good track record overseas," a Fujitsu spokeswoman said.
Samsung, which is a shareholder in Symbian and also makes phones using the Palm operating system, does not see the growing adoption of Windows for phones as heralding an unstoppable assault.
"That doesn’t mean we are going to see Microsoft overtake Symbian or threaten the disappearance of Symbian," said S.Y. Lee, an official at the world’s third-largest handset maker. (Reuters)
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