Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft is in talks with Verizon to release a phone under its own brand. A Microsoft spokesperson says there is no truth to this report.
The WSJ article said, in part:
Microsoft Corp. is in discussions with Verizon Wireless to launch a touch-screen multimedia cellphone on the carrier’s network early next year, in a bid to compete with Apple Inc.’s iPhone, people familiar with the matter said. Microsoft’s project, which is code-named “Pink,” is aiming to produce a phone that extends the tech giant’s Windows Mobile cellphone operating system, adding new software capabilities. It would also likely include Microsoft’s new Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a mobile application store along the lines of Apple’s.
This article echoes ones that have been published in the past. All of these have a common theme, that Microsoft is going to release a phone under its own brand name, rather than making an operating system for other phone manufacturers to use on their own devices.
As it has in the past, Microsoft denies that there is any basis to the latest report. John Starkweather, International Director of Product Management for the Entertainment and Devices Division, put it quite simply: “Microsoft is not going into the phone hardware business.”
Slightly Close, but Not Accurate
It’s possible this report stems from the fact that Microsoft is working with a wide variety of companies, including wireless carriers like Verizon, to make sure future versions of Windows Mobile meet their needs.
As Starkweather says:
We’re deepening our relationships with our hardware partners in order to create even better performing phones that are competitively priced, have the features people want, that are easy-to-use and just downright lustworthy. The upcoming availability of Windows Mobile 6.5 software will enable our OEM partners to build even more compelling devices in a wide-range of form factors for customers around the world.
There have been unconfirmed reports for some time about a mysterious Microsoft project code-named Pink. Typically these say that this project is creating a “ZunePhone”, a combination phone and Zune music player that would be released under Microsoft’s own brand.
Starkweather also categorically denied this: “Microsoft is not building a Zune-specific phone.”
According to a unconfirmed report from last fall, Pink is the code-name for a project to bring Zune-like functions to other devices, including Windows Mobile.