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Just when we thought the patent wars were over, Google has announced yesterday that they've filed an antitrust complaint in Europe, pointing a finger at Nokia and Microsoft regarding patents. The search giant is arguing that both companies are using third-party agencies (which are internally branded "patent trolls") to increase the costs for mobile devices, which would in-turn provide a strong advantage to the Microsoft ecosystem. An example is provided by Google, where the company states that Nokia and Microsoft have entered into revenue-based agreements with the likes of Mosaid Technologies.

Last year the two companies in question transferred a total of 2,000 patents to Mosaid, as well as Nokia selling 450 to IP Bulldog. Google views a threat on the horizon where more fees placed on OEMs may force manufacturers to look elsewhere, Windows Phone in this case, for cheaper production costs. While details of the filing has not been published, a statement from Google has been provided:

"Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that sidestep promises both companies have made. They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."

By colluding with both Microsoft and Mosaid, Google alleges that Nokia has betrayed its previous open-source commitments. A Microsoft representative has responded to these claims with the following comment:

"Google is complaining about patents when it won't respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents, and it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95% of mobile search and advertising. This seems like a desperate tactic on their part."

Nokia has also publicly responded to the filing:

"Though we have not yet seen the complaint, Google's suggestion that Nokia and Microsoft are colluding on IPR is wrong. Both companies have their own IPR portfolios and strategies and operate independently.

Nokia has made regular patent divestments over the last five years. In each case, any commitments made for standards essential patents transfer to the acquirer and existing licenses for the patents continue. Had Google asked us, we would have been happy to confirm this, which could then have avoided them wasting the commission's time and resources on such a frivolous complaint.

We agree with Google that Android devices have significant IP infringement issues, and would welcome constructive efforts to stop unauthorised use of Nokia intellectual property.

Nokia has an active licensing program with more than 40 licensees. Companies who are not yet licensed under our standard essential patents should simply approach us and sign up for a license."

We'll have to see how these complaints progress through the European regulators. We'll never get tired of patent news.

Source: Wall Street Journal; via: AllAboutWindowsPhone

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Market research firm IDC has released Q1 2012 data that shows fairly large growth for both Android and iOS, while Symbian and BlackBerry continue to fall into gloomy depths. Android stole the show with a Year-on-Year change in terms of shipping volume of 145%, with iOS in tow at 88%. RIM and Symbian, on the other hand, were hitting -29.7% and -60.6% respectively. Some fairly steep recordings.

But what about Windows Phone? It's sat on a respectable 26.9% increase, which is the point to take away here. While the marketshare has dipped slightly from 2.8 to 2.2 (includes Windows Mobile), the shipping volumes for the platform have seen a boost. We can see clearly the effect Nokia is having on Windows Phone.

"Windows Phone has yet to make significant inroads in the worldwide smartphone market, but 2012 should be considered a ramp-up year for Nokia and Microsoft to boost volumes. Until Nokia speeds the cadence of its smartphone releases or more vendors launch their own Windows Phone-powered smartphones, IDC anticipates slow growth for the operating system."

This is exactly what Chris highlighted in his report on Gartner's Q1 2012 data. Without repeating ourselves, check out the chart below for more details on how the platforms have progressed between Q1 2011 and 2012.

It's looking positive for Windows Phone, which is the main thing to look at. Microsoft and Nokia are doing well with increasing the reach of the brand itself. We'll have to see in Q2 how the continued push from AT&T, recent launches of the Lumia 900 in and across Europe, as well as the upcoming release in Australia, affects marketshare and shipping numbers in future reports.

Source: IDC, via: BGR

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News just in. Tesco Mobile, the mobile virtual network operator (using O2 as its carrier) from the supermarket, has got the Lumia 800 in its arsenal of smartphones. But it's not running Windows Phone. Well... it is, but it isn't. Confused? You certainly would be if you came across the above page.

According to the documentation the Lumia 800 is a Windows Phone device, but it sports a small Android logo to the right. Which is it Tesco? We've previously covered retailers getting it wrong when it comes to labeling Windows Phones, but should this really be happening with the platform being almost two years old?

Thanks Rob for sending the photo in!

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Microsoft is developing a cross-platform service that will enable users to migrate from competitor platforms (or Windows Phone) to Windows Phone, according to a patent filed back in 2010. The service will allow apps to be detected on the legacy handset, which will then be listed on the new Windows Phone for convenient downloading, providing users with peace of mind when it comes to installed apps.

According to the filed patent, the company is planning to provide functionality within the service that would analyse installed apps on the legacy handset (eg.: Android). The service would then search for identical or similar apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. The user would be presented with popular third-party suggestions should official apps not be available.

If there's no third-party app present on the Marketplace, the service will notify the user in the future once a similar app is published. Is that more than enough? Not according to the company. Microsoft is reported to be wanting to take things further with actually creating a complete solution where app data would be stored and transferred across to new Windows Phones or from other platforms, preventing data loss. Of course, little detail is available and we're yet to see how this service could work with the likes of Android and iOS

Another question on mind is if apps will have to be repurchased for Windows Phone when migrating from another platform, or would the software giant subsidize the costs? Microsoft has clearly been serious about Windows Phone since the off, and this reaffirms the company's commitment to take part in the smartphone marathon. How would you like to see such a service implemented?

Source: Unwired View

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Microsoft has desires for the much-rumoured certified Facebook Phone to be built on Windows Phone foundations, according to sources familiar with company plans. The social network has been tied to Android when it came to their own device being discussed, much like what Amazon has done with the Kindle Fire. Of course we should take this with a massive truck load of salt, but it's an interesting topic of discussion.

Why would Microsoft want Facebook to use their mobile platform over Android? According to the source, Microsoft has already integrated services into Facebook, but the added traffic to Bing and other products could be huge with the size of the Facebook user base. The company is also deeply interested in penetrating the mobile market to offer a NFC-powered payment product for consumers with supported Windows Phones, something which the Lumia 610 features. They want to be the physical version of PayPal before Google advances with Wallet.

But the real question is: why would we want a Facebook phone at all? Instead of wasting time building its own devices, Facebook could simply enter into a deal with the big M to promote Windows Phone on the social networking domain as the dominant mobile Facebook experience - which it arguably is. With Microsoft's OS sporting deep Facebook integration (something other platforms do not feature) to create an immersive and convenient user experience, many would comment it makes sense for this to be taken into consideration.

Something for your guys to consider. Would you like to see a Facebook Phone running Windows? Or are handsets like the HTC Status the way forward for Facebook?

Source: BusinessInsider; via: Tom's Guide; thanks 3lackDeath for the tip!

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Yesterday we posted a story from the Korea Herald that quoted an LG spokesperson saying that they were backing away from Windows Phone and putting their efforts towards Android instead. LG did say they would “continue research and development efforts” on Microsoft's OS but had no immediate plans for any new devices.

Today, LG has reached out to Pocket-lint to clarify the message and they're taking a strong position that the Herald, who literally quoted someone from LG was speculating:

"None of it is true. Korea Herald is showing its speculative side again. We are still on board with Windows Phone, but right now, we're focusing on Android because that's where the demand is. Regardless of which OS, LG is committed to offering consumers as wide a choice as possible."

Pocket-lint is reading that as a denial but call us crazy, we're not seeing to be that different from what we reported yesterday.

The tone of the article from yesterday made it clear that LG is certainly backing away from Windows Phone and the fact they have had no new Mango phones and nothing launched here in the US backs that up. In fact, when we were at Mobile World Congress we asked an LG spokesperson where were their Windows Phones and they said they had none, just Android (there was one but it was in Microsoft's booth).

To us this sounds a bit like LG spin mode and they're downplaying those earlier comments as just being too strong. It's not that LG is abandoning Microsoft and Windows Phone, they're simply just ignoring them for an indefinite amount of time while they focus on Android, where the money is. That's a completely different message, right?

But the real question is do you think we'll see any new LG Windows Phones in the next six months? We don't.

Source: Pocket-lint

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Nearly 60% of those switching to Windows Phone due to the Nokia Lumia 900 or HTC Titan II were former iOS and Android owners. Apple brand-loyalty? We think not.

We ran a poll the other day asking users if they switched to Windows Phone due to the Lumia 900 or Titan II, what OS were they coming from. And although the poll is still technically open, with 3,462 votes tallied so far we can discern a distinct pattern forming from the results.

The majority of users, nearly 60%, are coming from a combo of former Android and iPhone owners with it neatly divided at a close 30% each. Blackberry users are evidently still holding on with just 10% and a nice healthy 14% of adopters were coming from non-smartphones.

While our pals at Crackberry spun it as hope for Blackberry 10 users, we imagine a lot of folks jumped that ship last quarter to either the iPhone or Android, leaving the diehards (or still contract-bound) behind. Personally, we think RIM is DOA and look forward to a Microsoft acquisition at a rock bottom price (insert maniacal laughter).

The Android/iPhone results are interesting only because we're seeing what looks to be equal amount of folks taking up Windows Phone, leaving in the dust the notion that Apple has stronger brand loyalty than any other company.

One could also interpret the results as the Lumia 900 piquing interest from all segments of the smartphone market, represented in a roughly proportional manner. That's good news for Windows Phone as an OS and better news for Nokia who seem more than capable of garnering media attention on a wide scale. That is something the likes of Samsung and HTC have not been able to do in part because of their divided interest between Android and Windows Phone.

With the Lumia 900 seemingly selling very well (and yes, it's still number #1 and #3 on Amazon Wireless) the question now is will it maintain that momentum over the coming weeks?

We think with the glossy-white 900 set for this Sunday, April 22nd it will certainly create even more interest and those rumors of a magenta version for Mother's Day could also do wonders for the brand. We'll revisit this issue next month.

Update: To clarify, we purposefully left off previous Windows Phone users. The reason is because we were interested in only those who switched their OS due to the allure of the Lumia 900 (or Titan II). While we're sure a chunk of you were Windows Phone/Windows Mobile users, we wanted to look at the ratio of those who converted.

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Nokia and AT&T have gone forward with another "Beta Test" commercial. The controversial ad campaign started off my mocking the iPhone (those videos have since been pulled) and have now moved on to teasing how all other smartphones look the same.

In their latest TV blip, a smarmy gentleman is seen proclaiming how his phone defines him as an individual. Moments later a nerdy girl runs up squawking how she has the same phone.

It certainly elicited a slight chuckle from us and it goes to the heart of how a lot of us feel about Android and iPhones, specifically that they're not unique anymore due to their domination in the market. Here in New York City having an iPhone is about as original as being a Yankee's fan, so pushing the line that Nokia's are "beautifully different" could work.

Heck, even we've been critical of the Black-Slab™ phenomena going back to 2009 which may be why we're so enamored with Nokia's Cyan and Glossy White Lumia 900's. (Bonus: the Glossy White Lumia 900 peeks out at the end of this new ad for the first time).

Of course attacking your opponent, even without naming them, can be risky. However, we do think this is one safe area for Nokia to spear their competition as the Finnish company has always been ahead on design. And this type of marketing works. Just look at Nokia's "blown away" campaign and the reaction from Samsung. The company is making waves, my friends and that is effective advertising.

By the way, we're not sure why those original Beta Test iPhone videos were pulled, though we imagine it was due to negative feedback. Luckily, you can still view them here, here and here.

Source: YouTube; Thanks, Travis for the new ad link and Yonkit for the old Beta Test commercials

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Elan Feingold, co-founder of Plex, has shared his thoughts on the experience the company has had with development on the platform thus far. Plex recently released the official app for Windows Phone, which enables the user to stream movies, music and photos to their device(s) on the go.

Feingold is a longtime iPhone user who has never had any interest in Android, due to the mess of the system itself, fragmentation and how much work is involved into personalising the experience to suit the user's needs. He was introduced to Windows Phone ("Mango") by his brother, and explains his initial reaction:

"When Windows Phone 7 was released, I was intrigued by the design and typography [...] my initial impression (this was pre-Mango) was lukewarm, and I was obsessed with the iPhone at that point anyway, so I just went all fanboy on his ass and mostly ignored it."

Feingold moves onto talk about how he returned to Windows Phone in January and ordered himself a second-hand Samsung handset to aid with development. He was surprised by how impressed the operating system left him after initial use.

"Windows Phone felt original, well designed, and fun to use. The performance was great, really smooth in a way iOS is and Android isn’t even in ICS. The 'pivot' and 'panorama' UI concepts were fresh and a great way of making good use of a small screen in portrait mode. The typography was clean and brazen. The integration of Facebook and Twitter made them feel like first class citizens, not an afterthought. The live tiles on the home screen were a great way to make the phone feel alive."

The features of the OS were so appealing during and after use that it actually made Feingold almost dislike using his beloved iPhone. How was the development of the Plex app though, and does it stand up to competitor platforms? The icing on the cake is the below comment on how the development on Windows Phone compares to both iOS and Android:

"So how is the Windows Phone development environment? It’s scary good. C# is a great language, .NET is a solid framework, XAML is a really nice way to design user interfaces, and the edit-build-deploy cycle is fast. It still has a bit of growing up to do, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding: we were able to write the app from start to finish in two months, between two engineers working part time, which is almost an order of magnitude faster than it took for the iOS and Android app."

Be sure to read the full blog post over at Elan's blog on Plex's website (see source link), and of course the official Plex app which can be found on the Marketplace.

Source: Plex

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Don't colour us surprised if this is true to some extent as it's a simple marketing stunt that involves cash, but reports are coming in that the Smoked by Windows Phone challenges are sometimes rigged, or those who actually beat Microsoft's OS were denied their win / prize. Not only are relatively large sums of money involved, but Microsoft recently bumped the stakes to include a limited edition PC worth $1,000.

According to Sahas Katta, from Skatter Tech, he was wrongfully robbed of his glory (and brand-spanking new PC) by a Microsoft employee who refused to accept that his Android handset won. Katta went along to the Santa Clara Microsoft Store to give the challenge a go after hearing about the stakes increase. Using an Android handset with widgets galore to combat the Windows Phone live tiles, Katta felt prepared for the task that would be presented to him by the employee. 

"The Microsoft Store employee I was up against then explained the selected challenge. Her exact words were the following: 'bring up the weather of two different cities.' The one who could do that first would win. I felt like I struck gold since I knew I already had two weather widgets on my home screen: one for my current location (San Jose, CA) and another for Berkeley, CA.

After a three-second count down, I hit the power button on my phone and said 'DONE!' out loud. I had disabled the lock screen entirely, which is a rather awesome out-of-the-box feature of Android that takes you straight to the home screen with a single push of the power button. I didn’t even need to touch the screen, since the two weather widgets were already there."

According to Katta, having won the challenge by a mere few seconds, the employee turned around to say that Windows Phone won because "it displays the weather right there." Confusing indeed since that's exactly what the Android widgets did as well - they both displayed the weather 'right there'. After speaking to a manager and receiving bizarre reasons as to why he lost, Katta left the Microsoft Store empty handed. 

All we'll say is: it's not the first time a company has had problems with a marketing stunt, so we shouldn't be surprised if - in this case - the Smoked by Windows Phone challenge differs between employees, or is judged slightly differently. Though I would like to add that the manager should have handled the situation more professionally, if what Katta reported on had actually occurred. (And this is a big "if" as we're just taking their word).

Have you been to challenge Microsoft and Windows Phone in the challenges? If so, did you notice any cheating?

Source: Skatter Tech; thanks Sandy for the heads up!

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Laptop Mag is hosting game two of the 2012 Smartphone Madness competition, which has the Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone up against the Android powered Samsung Galaxy Note. The low-end Windows Phone is competing with a 5.3" monster of a smartphone. Something even the HTC TITAN could have trouble taking on with regards to screen size.

We're also talking dual-core, 1GB RAM and 16GB storage (with Micro-SD support). But what the Lumia 710 has over the Samsung behemoth is not only the latest version of Microsoft's mobile OS, but a more affordable price point, a solid manufacturer brand, and a choice of colours.

Be sure to spare a few seconds of your time to vote for the Lumia 710.

Source: Laptop Mag

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NetMarketShare has published marketshare data for the month for February and we've got some positive news for those who have missed the above image somehow. According to the data provided, Windows Phone is still on the rise - and it's a fairly steady climb from 0.29% up to 0.41%. 

While this is still fairly small when compared to the continued growth of both Android and iOS, it's good news that Nokia is having an impact on brand awareness. With the announcement (and public preview release) of Windows 8, which sports Metro UI elements, we can only expect the situation to improve for Microsoft's mobile platform.

Source: NetMarketShare, via: StreetInsider, thanks Mustafa for the tip!

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We've previously covered the odd slip-up from retailers when they refer the platform as Windows Mobile or state that one of the Windows Phone handsets run a version of Android, but we believe it's wise to name and shame said retailers should an error pop up. It doesn't take much effort (or concentration) to slap a Windows logo on a HTC Radar product image, so is it pure negligence or lack of knowledge when it comes to what OS smartphones actually run (we're praying it's not the latter)?

The above image comes from Irish mobile phone retailer Meteor. Head on over to the website and check out the Android logo on the HTC Radar. You'll find the handset in the "Over €200" section. It's irritating when Windows Phones receive such treatment as anyone looking for an alternate to Android could potentially overlook devices due to being incorrectly labeled.

Source: Meteor, thanks senbi for the tip!

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The other day @BenThePCGuy (a.k.a. Ben Rudolph) sought out to ease the pain smartphone users suffering from "DroidRage" after what appeared to be a massive adware outbreak on the Android Marketplace. He asked those afflicted to share their stories via Twitter. Ben would then pick the best (or worst) stories to receive a free Windows Phone.

The contest netted nearly a thousand responses. The lucky twenty will soon be receiving a free Windows Phone to help ease their frustrations. Here is a sampling of the winning submissions.

  • "I REALLY wish my Galaxy Nexus would stop rebooting while I'm on the phone."
  • "Android crashes even when i (try) unlock the screen..i bought it only because other phones was too expensive for me!"
  • "Battery issues, freezing, worried about malware, viruses... my DroidX gives me more trouble than my 2 teenage kids!"
  • "4 phones in 3 months. 3 hard resets in 6 months. I am dying alive from DROIDRAGE & cannot wait for my new windowsphone!"

You can see all the twenty winners of new Windows Phones by hitting the source link below.  This is the second of such promotions (Ben did the same thing back in December) and there's not telling when the third such promotion will take place.  

source: windowsteamblog

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Following what looks to be a massive adware outbreak on the Android marketplace, Microsoft's Ben Rudolph is looking to ease the pain of 20 affected users by giving them free Windows phones.  Rudolph asked what may be 5 million victims to share their stories via Twitter today, in hopes that their "Droidrage" might be cured.  Those who have the best stories (or worst, depending on how you look at it), will receive one of the 20 devices.  It's not clear what kind of phone winners will receive, but hey, a free WP7 phone is a free WP7 phone!

Microsoft has been pretty keen on these light-hearted promotions, pitting Windows Phone up against other mobile operating systems.  This is the second time that Android users have received such an offer, the first being back in December, when a smaller malware outbreak occurred.  And at CES, Ben Rudolph was challenging attendees to speed tests in the "Smoked by Windows Phone," which may even become a traveling affair.

Source: Ben Rudolph (Twitter)

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According to the Q4 2011 U.S. data released by Nielsen, Microsoft has caught 1.3% of the "current smartphone consumer" market, whereas they've attracted 1.4% of recent smartphone acquires (within the 3 months). Windows Mobile is set at 4.6% with Blackberry holding 14.9%. Windows Mobile is still being pumped out (more being sold than Windows Phone) but Blackberry is struggling to attract smartphone upgrades.

iOS saw an increase with the recent iPhone 4S launch, which has been relatively successful, while Android storms ahead taking almost half the market (46.4%) and attracting 51.7% of the recent smartphone acquires. For 2012, Microsoft (as well as the platform OEMs) have a task to win the minds of consumers and catch the majority of new adopters. With the beginning of the U.S. push, and marketing still ongoing across Europe and beyond, we should hopefully see some results in the Q1 2012 report.

Source: Nielsen, via: WMPU

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Microsoft has been busy lately hammering out Android licensing deals with manufacturers.  A few days after announcing an agreement with LG, word is that they are close to a similar one with Pantech, South Korea’s third largest handset manufacturer.  A Pantech spokesman told Yonhap News, "We are in talks with Microsoft over the patent use, but specific details have not yet been decided." 

While nothing is set in stone, it is expected that the deal will mirror others signed with Samsung and others, which require them to pay Microsoft five dollars for every device sold.  Not including this deal in the making, Microsoft claims to have secured licensing agreements with 70% of all Android device manufacturers. 

Source: Yonhap News; Via: SlashGear

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Korean tech manufacturer LG is the latest company to reach an Android licensing deal with Microsoft.  The agreement is similar to those signed with HTC, Samsung and others, but unlike them, also includes Google's Chrome OS.  Microsoft has benefited greatly from licensing deals.  One estimate had them making three times more off HTC's Android sales alone than their own Windows Phone 7. 

Microsoft attorney, Horacio Gutierrez, praised the "mutually beneficial agreement," noting that MS now licenses Android to 70% of all Android phones sold in the U.S.:

“We are pleased to have built upon our longstanding relationship with LG to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Together with our 10 previous agreements with Android and Chrome OS device manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung and Acer, this agreement with LG means that more than 70 percent of all Android smartphones sold in the U.S. are now receiving coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft. “We are proud of the continued success of our program in resolving the IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome OS.”

LG's Ken Hong sounded equally upbeat, saying that the deal allowed both companies to get back to what they do best, putting out products for consumers:

"We're of course pleased we could come to amicable terms with Microsoft, whom LG has had a great working relationship with for years. This agreement allows both companies to move beyond the legal issues and get on with doing what both companies do best, which is developing products and delivering services that benefit consumers."

The Chrome part of the deal has yet to come into play, though speculation is that it will involve LG's upcoming 3D Google TV.  As for the remaining 30% of the U.S. Android market, it looks like Microsoft's sights could next be set on Motorola Mobility, who was acquired by Google last year.  How fascinating would it be if Google has to pay Microsoft for using one of its own products?

Source: Microsoft; Via: AndroidCentral

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A half-dozen Android phones (literally, six Android phones) and the announcement of the HTC Titan II dominated the AT&T Developer Summit this morning at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. But Nokia CEO Stephen Elop promised that his company has phones on the way, too, and we'll see them announced at its press event this afternoon.

The Lumia 900 is all be assured, and hopefully Elop's got something else up his sleeve, too.

Check back at 3 p.m. PST / 6 p.m. EST for the liveblog! Bookmark this link!

More: See all of our CES 2012 Windows Phone coverage

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E.D. Kain, a contributor over at Forbes, has published an interesting article about why he believes Windows Phone will do well in the competitive smartphone market. The post is perfect to put every reader in a positive mood with CES 2012 coming up shortly. Kain provides five reasons why the platform has the potential to do well, should more hardware compliment the OS, and the future be maintained at a "bright" level:

  1. Windows Phone Has A Totally Unique UI
  2. Originality Means Fewer Forays Into The Patent Wars
  3. Uniformity Across All Devices and Carriers
  4. Zune Is Baked Right Into the Operating System
  5. Xbox Live Gaming Support

While none of the above will be anything new to majority of platform veterans, it does paint a clear picture of what path Microsoft is traveling down, not just with Windows Phone but other product lines too. Kain's verdict is 2012 will see the platform enter a three-way race against the iPhone and Android (which we can all agree with).

CES 2012 will house Nokia's Lumia 900 announcement, which will kick off the aggressive marketing campaign in the U.S. and join the media tsunami that has been witnessed across Europe and beyond. Be sure to check out the full read at Forbes (link below).

Source: Forbes

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