Microsoft may score big coup with high-end Samsung Windows Phone

Windows Phone may get a big boost this year, with Samsung releasing a high-end Windows Phone handset. Having the world's largest smartphone maker join the small Windows Phone club could be just what Microsoft needs to finally gain some serious market share.

What's called a user agent profile for a device that appears to be a Windows Phone with the model number SM-W750V has made its appearance on Samsung's phone site. A user agent profile lists a device's specifications, such as its browser, multimedia capabilities, and so on. In the case of the SM-W750V, the "organization" behind the phone is listed as Windows Mobile Lab and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. The device's browser is listed as Internet Explorer. That certainly sounds like a Windows Phone. Another hint is that among the audio formats it supports is .wma, Windows Media Audio, and among the video formats is .wmv, Windows Media Video. Android doesn't support those formats, although some manufacturers of Android devices use codecs to allow those formats to be played.

The user agent profile offers a few other hints about the device's capabilities, including a 1,080 x 1,920 display and LTE support. The site SammyToday, which follows Samsung, claims that the device will have a five-inch screen.

Samsung already has a Windows Phone, the Ativ Odyssey, but it's a low-end, underwhelming device that hasn't sold well. Samsung releasing a new, higher-end Windows Phone would mean that the company has confidence that it will sell, and could put its marketing and distribution muscle behind it. One rumor says that Microsoft is paying Samsung $1 billion to gain its support for Windows Phone, but that can't be verified.

No matter the reason, though, Samsung's support will likely help Windows Phone gain market share. Sony may be releasing a Windows Phone as well, which would also help.

Windows Phone certainly could use the help. Although it's up to 10% market share in the largest European Union countries, it's struggling in the world's two largest smarphone markets, the U.S. and China. In the U.S. it's at 4.7% market share, and in China at 2.7%, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, warns:

"You don't have to conquer China and the US to win in the smartphone market, but you do need success in one of them. At the moment there are few signs of progress in either country for Windows Phone and momentum needs to be made soon before OS loyalty severely limits the available market."

Samsung may help with that. And having Samsung could lure other smartphone makers as well, who may be scared away from Windows Phone by Microsoft's purchase of Nokia. So don't count out Windows Phone yet. A Samsung Windows Phone handset could be a big boost to the smartphone OS.

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