oems

Almost exactly a year ago, Chinese device manufacturer OPPO was rumored to be working on a Windows Phone 8 device that was slated for a 2013 release. If recent images that were posted on Sina Weibo (Twitter's Chinese counterpart) by OPPO’s Social Marketing Director Li Ying Ming are to be believed, then the rumors could be close to coming to fruition. The pictures show what appears to be a mockup (translation: not a real) of OPPO's Android-powered Find 5 running Windows Phone 8.

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Google is getting bold, telling OEMs 'no' on other OSs

Update: Google's Andy Rubin finally responds. See after the break...

A bit of a controversy is slowly erupting over Acer’s widely publicized plan to use the Aliyun OS in a new line of low-cost smartphones, mostly destined for the Chinese market. Aliyun OS is a Linux-based system developed by the Chinese company Alibaba Group and offered a way for OEMs like Acer to diversify.

Acer has now abruptly canceled plans after Google “expressed concerns” over the announcement.  Though Acer still wants to use the Aliyun OS, the move by Google is being interpreted as a hostile action to block competition. Reportedly Google threatened to cancel Acer’s license to make Android devices, which many consider playing hardball.

The question is, how far is Google willing to go to maintain dominance?

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By now Nokia’s commitment to the Windows Phone OS should be well established. What has made their role so vital to Microsoft is not just the hardware they’ve created (4 phones in 12 months) but the support they’re providing to the platform from all directions.

Whether it’s original OEM apps, exclusive titles, developer support tools, mapping data, dispersing thousands of free Lumias to devs or their promotions, Nokia has gone beyond their competitors in many ways.

One of those is one that may not be too familiar with Windows Phone Central readers but is just as impressive: Nokia’s SmartStart program.

What’s SmartStart? We get a behind the scenes glimpse of Nokia’s growing support system for new Lumia owners and share what’s coming next…

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Business Insider is reporting that Skype is causing Microsoft and by extension Nokia problems in terms of sales of their Lumia line. The information comes from the shareholder meeting held yesterday in Finland but since it was not open to the public or recorded, there's a lot of second hand "reporting" going, some of it dubious.

Reportedly a question was raised about Skype from a shareholder. From BI:

"Nokia seems to be having a problem with the distribution channel due to Skype" asking how will Nokia deal with this problem. Elop answered "If the operator doesn't want us, it doesn't want us. We will appeal to them with other arguments. We have more to offer to them. It is a good point to start the discussion from Skype."

Both BI and an awfully written personal blog called 'Communities Dominates Brands' spin this as Nokia having problems selling Lumias because of carrier opposition to Skype.

While we have little doubt that carriers don't like Skype and are concerned about how Microsoft pushes it on them, it seems like flat out ignorance to claim this is why Nokia may be having trouble selling their Lumia line. 

As anyone on Windows Phone who has used Skype knows, it's far from a threat to carriers especially at its current stage. Let's go over the reasons why this story is dubious and reeks of shoddy reporting:

  • Skype on Windows Phone doesn't run in the background and can't receive calls
  • Skype is widely available on the much more ubiquitous iOS and Android platforms where it can run in the background
  • Tango Video Call is also now widely available on all platforms and can receive calls in the background on Windows Phone, making it more of a "threat" than Skype
  • Skype doesn't come pre-installed on any Windows Phone; Tango Video Call does
  • The carriers are gearing up for Skype by capping data and raising costs as voice-usage starts to decline

Certainly we can see carriers being concerned with how Microsoft integrates Skype into Windows Phone 8 but that seems like something that could be negotiated by the OEMs and carriers on a per-device level. Microsoft has been very, very good at working with carriers (and cable providers) on content delivery and not stepping on their toes. In fact it's a core reason why the Xbox 360 is doing so well as a general entertainment device over Google TV.

The notion that Android and iOS get a pass on Skype with the carriers but Nokia (and only Nokia) are being singled out seems ludicrous, especially since Windows Phone is a drop in the bucket compared to Apple and Google's systems right now. In other words, while Nokia may be having problems getting traction in the smartphone market with Windows Phone, we don't think it's because of Skype.

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Despite all of us not knowing much about Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" we're sure discussing a lot about it this week.

Netbook News ran a story today about a supposed summit meeting between Microsoft and its partners happening in Reading, UK with the delicious details of the agenda. While no specifics were given, we can of course garner some information from the list itself, presented below:

  • Apollo Review
  • Windows Phone Schedules and release plans/processes
  • Customization & Differentiation opportunities
  • New Windows Phone 8 application development capabilities
  • What’s new feature review of Apollo
  • Connectivity and APN management
  • Better together with Windows 8

Some sites have spun the part about "Customization & Differentiation opportunities" as Microsoft giving more leeway to carriers and OEMs. To that we say "perhaps" but that's certainly an assumption. For all we know, it could be the same Accent color changes and some un-installable carrier software as with Windows Phone 7. But it is very possible that Microsoft is now loosening the reigns a tad to garner more favorable cooperation with carriers and OEMs.

It's a known fact that carriers and device manufacturers adore Google's Android because they can do so much with it, giving them greater incentive to sell the device, whereas Windows Phone is basically always the same. If Microsoft is shifting this a bit with Windows Phone 8, it could give carriers and companies like HTC or Samsung greater motivation to adopt and support Windows Phone 8. The devil is in the details though and we're lacking those.

The rest is just a list of things we're dying to know about, much like you. Too bad we're probably weeks if not months from getting the whole story on the next generation of Windows Phone.

Source: Netbook News

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Marios Karagiannis, the developing superpower behind the title MonsterUp, has published an interesting article on his blog detailing how 2012 is going to be the "Year of Nokia" for Windows Phone. Looking at the above charts, on the left we have the total breakdown of Windows Phone OEMs since early 2011 and on the right we have the representation of the month of January 2012 only (data is extracted from devices playing his games).

There's a clear trend that is noticeable when comparing both charts. Nokia is on the rise (within the Windows Phone market anyway), helped by the quality of the handsets manufactured and the sheer scale of marketing. HTC is still the clear giant, but with the 900 uprising, as well as the probability of the monster Lumia handset being available on a global scale, we should see a further increase to the chunk Nokia owns.

While we have no exact figure for the amount of handsets Nokia has sold, apart from the 1 million shipped estimation by analysts, this is an indicator that the Lumia family is selling. Especially with the 11% jump in Windows Phone OEM shares in just under a month.

Source: Marios Karagiannis

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Portfolio Manager for ZTE UK, Santiago Sierra has revealed to TrustedReviews that the reason Windows Phones manufactured by the Chinese company will be more expensive is due to the licensing fees set by Microsoft, which he placed between £20-25 ($30-40) per license. This amount is more than what was believed, without any official fee being revealed. 

We would like to believe the higher cost of the license is justified by certain features of the operating system - including Xbox LIVE, Office, and more. However, it has always been thought that licensing costs for HTC and Samsung to be between £5-10 ($10-15), but this could be due to production volume number discounts, much like what businesses may receive when purchasing multiple copies of Microsoft Office.

This cost may prevent manufacturers (like ZTE) to pump out low cost smartphones, which can be seen with the Tania pricing (almost on par with generation 1 handsets). Let's not forget that Microsoft collects royalties from manufacturers who build Android handsets, which come to around $15 per device.

Source: TrustedReviews, via: The Verge

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Near field communication (NFC) is certainly one of the bigger technologies to come out in mobile phones in the last year, but its mainstream appeal won't become evident till 2012. Whether or not Windows Phone currently supports it though has not been well understood. While Microsoft (and Nokia) have made it  clear that NFC is on their roadmap, we don't know if if and when that will happen.

Now in an interview with TechRadar, Will Coleman, developer evangelist and product manager at Microsoft UK, has stated that our current OS does have NFC on board but no OEM has added it to their hardware yet:

"As far as I'm aware, NFC is supported by [Windows Phone], but needs to be enabled by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). So, if any OEM wants to enable it, that can be done by all means. Think it's about just about timing, in the not too distant future there are some exciting things that will be coming through with NFC from Microsoft."

That is certainly interesting. We can of course speculate why no one has added NFC including lack of wide-spread support, Microsoft has yet to roll out any supporting services and cost-reduction in devices. Of course to our enthusiasts out there, no reason would be satisfactory.

Even Keith Varty, head of apps and partnerships for Nokia has chimed in on the matter:

"NFC isn't an if, it's a when, it will happen. Obviously there's no NFC on our launch devices, so it's difficult to comment too much on that, but the main divisions between secure and non-secure [NFC] mean there's bags of opportunity for the technology [on our phones] especially with so many operators launching services. We need to get a [Windows Phone] device into the marketplace with NFC capabilities, and when we do we can really start to showcase our services".

For some of us, the benefit of NFC is a bit weak right now without any official services to support--we don't have a Google Wallet and 'beaming' still looks like a ways off. But we think the next round for Nokia and other OEMs should finally see NFC being added and used to a significant degree.

Updated: There once again looks to be some confusion around this issue and we're now being told that NFC is not currently supported in Windows Phone 7.5 but of course that it is coming in 2012--obviously there is some nitty-gritty tech bits that are being glossed over, but Microsoft is taking the line that it is not currently on board in any form. Take that as you will. From Microsoft:

"While Near Field Communications is not currently supported on Windows Phone 7.5, it is coming. We expect NFC-enabled Windows Phone devices to ship within the next year."

Source: TechRadar; via Windows Phone Metro; Thanks, Steven S, for the tip!

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