Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Smartphones
(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp unveiled a new line of phones running its Windows software on Monday, as it attempts to pull back market share from Apple Inc's iPhone and Google Inc's Android system in the fast-growing market for multi-featured "smartphones."
The world's largest software company is hoping that the new phones, from handset makers Samsung, LG, HTC and Dell Inc, will propel it back into the mobile market, which many see as the key to the future of computing.
The new phones, initially available on AT&T Inc's network in the United States, are much closer in look and feel to Apple's iPhone, with colorful touch-screens and "tiles" for easy access to email, the Web, music and other applications.
Some analysts say they represent Microsoft's last chance to catch up with rivals in the smartphone market who overtook it in the past few years.
"I've been looking forward to this day for some time," said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, showing off nine phone models at a launch event in New York.
Ballmer, who has admitted that his company "missed a generation" with its recent unpopular phone offerings, said the new phones would eventually be available from 60 mobile operators in 30 countries.
The first phone from AT&T, priced at $200, will be available on November 8, said Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.
Microsoft has a market share of only 5 percent in the global smartphone market, according to research firm Gartner, compared with 9 percent a year ago. Google's Android system has a 17 percent market share, jumping from only 2 percent a year ago.
The market for multi-feature phones that allow users to email, surf the Web and play games, as well as have access to music and video, is set to expand massively.
Gartner expects almost 270 million smartphones to be sold around the world this year, up 56 percent from last year.
In comparison, Gartner expects only a 19 percent increase in worldwide PC sales to 368 million units this year.
Microsoft shares were up 5 cents at $24.62 on the Nasdaq on Monday morning. AT&T shares were up 18 cents at $28.40 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew and Bill Rigby, editing by Matthew Lewis)