Asus and LG eye Windows Phone 8 -- is Windows Phone finally reaching critical mass?

Among Windows Phone's many problems are that it doesn't have support among many phone manufacturers. But that appears to be changing, with LG and possibly Asus signing on to make Windows Phone 8 devices. This could be a sign the struggling smartphone operating system may evntually reach critical mass.

As of right now, only three phone makers sell Windows Phone 8 devices in the U.S., Nokia, Samsung, and HTC. That's a problem, because it makes it difficult for Windows Phone 8 to compete against Android phones. Consumers have plenty of Android phones to choose from at virtually any price. Not so with Windows Phones. That makes it more likely that consumers will buy an Android device rather than a Windows 8 device.

With LG and possibly Asus moving in, that should change. The Korea Times quotes a senior executive of one of LG's partners as saying that LG "has some new smartphones in the works that will run Microsoft's Windows Phone 8."

As for Asus, things are a little more complicated. In fact, they're a little bizarre. Benson Lin, Asus' corporate vice president of mobile communication products told the Wall Street Journal that Asus is considering developing what it calls a Windows Phone 8-based "Padphone." What exactly is a Padphone? It's the ultimate all-in-one device, essentially a phone wrapped in a tablet wrapped in a notebook. Think of it as the tech equivalent of a Thanksgiving Turducken -- a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey.

Asus has introduced an Android-based Padfone already. What a Windows Phone 8 one might look like is not so clear. Would Windows Phone 8 power not just the phone but the tablet and notebook as well? Would Windows 8 be involved? Windows RT? If Asus knows, it isn't saying.

Padfone or not, though, Lin told the Journal that "we are interested in making Windows phones."

Two new manufacturers eying Windows Phone is good news, as is Sprint's announcement that it will start selling Windows Phone 8 devices some time this year. All that by itself won't save the smartphone operating system. But at least it will help Windows Phone 8 get onto more of a level playing field with Android. And at this point, Microsoft will settle for that.

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