iPhone 6 rollout: Lights out for Windows Phone?

The impact may not be as dire as you expect.

lumia 830 lumia 735 microsoft ifa

When the iPhone 6 gets rolled out tomorrow, some may be tempted to say that it will finally mean the end of Windows Phone. But will the iPhone 6 really harm Windows Phone, or is there a way for Microsoft to salvage its smartphone OS?

As always, the hype machine will go into overdrive tomorrow when the iPhone 6 is released. You won't hear much about anything else in the tech world. There's no doubt that part of the commentary will involved the inevitable demise of Windows Phone.

But will the newest iPhone really hurt Windows Phone? Not as much as you might think. As always, the iPhone will remain a phone for those with expensive tastes. Apple doesn't go down-market, particularly with the latest releases of their devices.

And that's why the iPhone release won't hurt Windows Phone as much as you might expect. That's because Microsoft is taking a new tack with Windows Phone. No longer will it seriously try to compete at the high end with the iPhone or phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5. Instead, it's going the budget route.

Microsoft calls its just-announced Lumia 830 Windows Phone an "affordable flagship." It's a solid phone at a reasonable price, with a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. The display is a 5-incher with 1280 x 720 resolution, which isn't particularly high. There's also a 10-megapixel camera with a Zeiss lens, and optical image stabilization. The price: $430 without a contract, compared to the $600 you'll typically pay for an iPhone without a contract.

Microsoft will be using that price difference to target the iPhone. According to the IDG News Service, Chris Weber, corporate vice president of mobile device sales at Microsoft said at the IFA electronics show in Berlin:

"We're going to challenge Apple and Samsung and expose the premium they are charging for a phone."

Ed Bott adds that at a press event at IFA, Weber said:

"We are going to continue to push price points even lower."

Given that Microsoft is going downmarket, it's not clear that the iPhone 6 will have much impact on Windows Phone. In the weeks after the release of the iPhone 6, Microsoft may target the new phone, disparaging its high price. Microsoft has been aggressive in targeting Apple's Siri, claiming that it's far inferior to Windows Phone's Cortana. So don't be surprised if Microsoft launches an attack campaign against the iPhone 6 as well.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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