Accelerating the Windows Phone Ecosystem

This year has been one of significant change for the mobile industry. We are moving from a battle of devices to one of ecosystems. What is required to build and maintain a vibrant ecosystem is broad – defined by the relationship between hardware, software, services and applications working together to bring innovative new experiences to a world of devices.

This shift has been accelerating, and we have been moving fast. It was only a year ago that we unveiled Windows Phone 7 to the world for the first time.

It was more than the launch of a new product. Windows Phone 7 represents the best from Microsoft including Xbox LIVE, Office, Bing, Hotmail and Windows Live, adding to that deep integration of third party experiences like Facebook as well as thousands more from developers. For consumers, we set out to make Windows Phones the easiest to use and most delightful phones in the market. With Windows Phone, our top priority was to build phones that people love. Our phones are differentiated in the way they are designed, and the way that experiences are seamless and beautifully integrated. This focus on smart design makes it easier and faster to get to the information you care about. And with Windows Phone Hubs, we organize information, applications and services into one place.

The feedback from our customers has demonstrated we are on the right path. Today, 93% of Windows Phone customers worldwide are delighted with their phones. And perhaps even more importantly, customers are spreading the word. For example, 9 out of 10 people who purchase a Windows Phone tell their friends, family and coworkers that they should buy one too.

As I’ve articulated, job one was to ensure that those who touch and use our phone love it. This focus has built us a strong reputation within the industry as well, with the over 30,000 registered Windows Phone developers who have already seized the opportunity and delivered 8,000 quality applications to date, adding about 100 new titles every day.

Today in a keynote at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Steve Ballmer announced several new features and capabilities that will make our phone an attractive option for even more people coming this year.

Here is a summary of the announcements made:

First Major Update
A free customer update will be made available for all Windows Phones in the first two weeks of March, which includes new capabilities such as copy & paste and faster application performance.

Availability on CDMA Networks
With added support for CDMA networks, Windows Phone will be available to even more customers on mobile operators such as Verizon and Sprint in the first half of 2011.

Twitter Integration in the People Hub
The popular social networking service Twitter will be integrated into the People Hub in the second half of 2011.

Office Document Storage in the Cloud
Document sharing and storage in the cloud via Windows Live SkyDrive will be added to Windows Phone in the second half of 2011.

Next Generation Browsing with Internet Explorer 9
A dramatically enhanced Internet Explorer 9 web browser will be added to Windows Phone in the second half of 2011. It will feature the same standards support (HTML5, etc.) and hardware accelerated graphics as the PC version.

Additional Multi-tasking Capabilities
We will add the ability to switch quickly between applications, run applications in the background (such as listening to music), along with a number of other capabilities in the second half of 2011. Developers will learn much more about this during April’s MIX conference.

Strong developer, handset maker and mobile operator partnerships coupled with an increased pace of innovation and lower price points will help fuel our growth for the long-term. We’ve laid the foundation for this with a quality experience we know customers love. This year, our attention turns to bringing that experience to a critical mass of customers so we can we begin to enjoy the economies of scale that will have a long term impact on market share. Now that we have a strong start, it’s important for us to accelerate our innovation and deliver it to more customers than ever before.

Our recently announced partnership with Nokia is a significant next step in this journey. In this partnership, Microsoft adds software and services expertise together with Nokia’s expertise in hardware design, imaging and mapping & location. The result is a product backed by some of the world’s best known brands including Office, Xbox LIVE, Bing, NAVTEQ and Nokia. Working with Nokia to bring together our highly complementary assets and competencies will allow the Windows Phone ecosystem to delight more customers at even greater scale.

We are excited to work with Nokia and our other handset maker partners because it will help catalyze the Windows Phone ecosystem – making it a compelling alternative to the existing choices for mobile operators, developers and consumers. We will have much more to say about this strategic partnership and the opportunities it presents over the coming months as we prepare to deliver significant volume of Nokia Windows Phones in 2012.

Our work in 2011 will begin a new cycle that will spur on lower cost offerings, along with a wave of third party innovation and opportunity that will make us very competitive with the incumbent market leaders in key markets.

We’re confident that Microsoft is on a path to be successful with Windows Phone and its growing ecosystem because we have momentum, a clear vision for what lies ahead, and a unique set of assets that will help us move the Windows Phone ecosystem forward.

Andy Lees
President, Mobile Communications Business