Windows Phone 'Mango' Launch Edges Closer

With the launch of new Windows Phone "Mango" -- aka Windows Phone 7.5 (WP7.5) -- handsets just a few weeks off, Microsoft has been talking the update up in a move to generate excitement around the release.

In fact, Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) OEM partners have been shipping updates to WP7 phones already in customers' hands for a few weeks already.

Additionally, several of Microsoft's partners have already begun showing their new Mango phones and more are readying them for shipment.

However, Microsoft still has a long ways to go to generate the kind of excitement that more popular phones -- particularly Apple's new iPhone 4S, which just launched last Thursday -- already have achieved.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), for instance, announced Monday that it had received more than a million pre-orders for the iPhone 4S in just the first 24 hours that the new handset was on sale. That broke the previous record of 600,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4 in the first 24 hours when it went on sale.

Undaunted, though, Microsoft executives have been out banging the gong for the upcoming launch of Mango phones.

Among the plays in the works is more investment in marketing and sales incentives for the new phones by partners such as Samsung and HTC, Andy Lees, president of Microsoft's Windows Phone Division, reportedly told Bloomberg and The Seattle Times.

Microsoft also has high hopes for the launch of the first Mango phones from Nokia, the world's largest maker of handsets. The two companies struck an agreement in February whereby, later this year, Nokia will begin shipping all of its smartphones with Windows Phone.

The first of those Nokia Mango smartphones is expected to launch before the beginning of the holiday shopping season, which is only weeks away.

The first WP7 phones launched in early November last year.

However, even Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently admitted that Windows Phone sales have been much smaller and slower than the software giant had hoped. Microsoft is hoping that the Mango update -- which adds some 500 new features -- will help to give it the energy it needs to become a contender.

As it is, it sits as an also ran among the major competitors, behind Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android, Apple's iOS, and Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM). The field may not look that way, forever, though.

Two leading analyst firms -- IDC and Gartner -- have both predicted that, by 2015, Windows Phone will have muscled aside all but Android -- at least partly due to the Nokia deal.

In the meantime, though, it will take a lot of energy on Lees and company's part to overcome the kind of momentum that the iPhone 4S generated in just one day.

A Microsoft spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.


Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.


Microsoft, iPhone, Nokia, Windows Mobile, Mango