In a move which Apple fanboys will think signals AT&T moving from the light of Steve Jobs‘ love to the dark side of a satanic deal which will take the telco’s soul, AT&T has said it will flog phones with Windows 7 Mobile on board.
Altimeter Group analyst Michael Gartenberg tweeted that AT&T will buy 8 million WP7 devices. This is a lot of the beasts. Only 55 million smartphones shipped globally in the first quarter of 2010.
For Microsoft to score a significant foothold in the market it has to get the other major telcos on board too. So far, Verizon,Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA have not said if they are going to go for it.
Microsoft told the Mobile World Congress in February that its US partners were AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. So it looks like AT&T will be the number one supplier and the others will be lesser partners.
However, carriers have in the past supported the platform as “partners” and then later pulled back. What it seems that everyone is waiting for is the the reaction by developers to reference hardware phones running WP7 that were recently distributed by Microsoft.
There the field is not so clear. Some have moaned that WP7 needs full multi-tasking, copy and paste and a native Twitter client. Others think it is good and believe Microsoft is likely to add such features in coming generations.
The relationship between Apple and AT&T has got more chilly over recent months, as Jobs’ Mob appears to be considering getting rid of the telco’s sole supplier status. To counter this AT&T has been waving the flag a little more aggressively than the rest.
Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of mobile devices for AT&T, even said the unthinkable. He said that Microsoft had “raised the bar substantially” with Windows Phone 7 making it “very, very comparable to any smartphone on the market.” In short it is just as good as the iPhone.
Others have pointed out that the relationship between Microsoft and AT&T is as strong as ever, despite the close links with Apple. AT&T is the largest supplier of Windows Mobile phones in the US a status it has managed dispute making a killing on its deals with Apple.