When Microsoft announced its intention to absorb Nokia’s devices and services group last year, many wondered what effect the $7.2B acquisition would have on the company’s relationship with its Windows Phone hardware partners. It’s a sensible question (how can a company endorse partners’ hardware while also building its own?) and it’s one Microsoft addressed directly on its Windows Phone blog. Today, Microsoft has backed up its commitment to Windows Phone diversity by announcing nine new hardware partners for its mobile OS.
The list of vendors is largely made up of Chinese and Indian manufacturers, from the obscure (Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava, Longcheer) to the better-known Foxconn and Lenovo. The “new” manufacturers perhaps best known to Western audiences are the two which have already held Windows Phone licenses in the past: ZTE and LG, with the latter having produced the LG Quantum and Optimus 7 for Windows Phone’s initial rollout in 2010.
Of the new partnerships, Microsoft says that “with seven of the top 10 global OEMs … now collaborating with Windows Phone, you can expect to see an incredible new range of devices across screen sizes and price points.” It also calls out its existing partners in its press release: HTC, Huawei, and Samsung all got a name-drop, suggesting those partnerships will continue.
Microsoft also announced that dual-SIM support, softkeys, and compatibility with the Snapdragon 200 and 400 series chipsets would also be supported going forward, saying that “one nice benefit of these additions is that many hardware vendors will be able to use the same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices.” As Windows Phone already supports at least one version of the Snapdragon 400 (as evidenced by HTC’s 8XT and Samsung’s ATIV S Neo), we assume the added support involves newer variants of the chipset.
Notably absent from today’s announcement: a Sony-Microsoft partnership, something many of us were hoping to see. This doesn’t mean a future tie-up between the two is impossible, but it does put prospects for a Sony Windows Phone a bit further down the road than we expected.
More on Microsoft’s Windows plans, including the company’s ongoing enhancements to Windows 8.1, included in the press release below.
(An earlier version of this post erroneously labeled Lava and Karbonn Chinese manufacturers; in fact, they are based in India. Pocketnow regrets the error.)