Despite Windows Phone 7, Verizon exec says Microsoft is not a mobile leader

Windows Phone 7 may be finally getting it coming-out party today, but a top Verizon exec says he is underwhelmed by Microsoft's mobile strategy and products, and doesn't consider the company one one of the top players in the mobile market.

Lowell McAdam, Verizon's president and chief operating office, is number two at the company, just below Verizon CEO and Chairman Ivan Seidenberg. Many expect McAdam to take over Seidenberg's reigns when he retires.

In an interview with CNet, McAdam made clear he is less than impressed with Microsoft and its mobile products and strategy.

McAdam was being interviewed primarly about Verizon's upcoming 4G network, which uses a technology called Long Term Evolution (LTE). During the course of the intereview, he was asked about whether Verizon will offer Windows Mobile 7 devices on LTE. His answer takes a direct swipe at Microsoft, saying that it can't be considered a major player in the mobile market:

I can't really say which phones we'll offer yet. We like our relationship with Microsoft. But clearly in the U.S. there are three major mobile operating systems: RIM, Google, and Apple.

It doesn't end there. Here's how the next part of the interview goes:

So you don't view Microsoft as a major player in mobile anymore?

McAdam: No not at the moment. Microsoft is not at the forefront of our mind.

Does this have anything to do with the short-lived Microsoft Kin? That was kind of a mess.

McAdam: This really goes back to what I said earlier about how innovation in wireless devices and applications is moving so quickly. Our device suppliers have to demonstrate to us that they will be developing leading edge products. And if they are not leading edge, then we can't afford to carry them in our stores. But if they are innovative, we'll offer them.

Ouch! There's no doubt here that McAdam is hinting that Microsoft mobile products simply aren't innovative.

Of course, one might argue that there's sour grapes at play here, because Windows Mobile Phone 7 at first will only be available on GSM phones, and so can't work on Verizon's CDMA network.

Still, having Verizon badmouth Microsoft's mobile strategy right before what is Microsoft's biggest mobile launch won't go well at Redmond. As for whether consumers agree with McAdam, we'll have to wait and see.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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