Microsoft may be wielding a new weapon in the war against Apple. The company's rumored to be working on a top-secret smartphone with Verizon. The mission: take out the iPhone. The code-name: "Pink."
Microsoft + Verizon = Pink?
Word of the supposed Microsoft-Verizon marriage comes from The Wall Street Journal and is attributed to those seemingly omnipresent "people familiar with matters." The unnamed insiders suggest "Pink" will be a souped-up Windows Mobile multimedia phone made specifically to compete with Apple's iPhone. A third-party company will handle the actual hardware, the sources say, while Microsoft will focus on creating "new software capabilities" and built-in access to the Windows Marketplace for Mobile (aka Microsoft's answer to the App Store).
So in a market saturated with vaguely cited information, can this latest tidbit really be trusted? Verizon is staying mum -- a representative declined to comment for this story. Microsoft, though, did have something to say. Sort of.
"Microsoft's strategy has not changed," a spokesperson tells me. "It is and has always been to provide a software platform for the industry. We work closely with many mobile operators and device makers around the world because customers want different experiences on a variety [of] phones."
Hmm. So basically, what they're saying is that Microsoft could be working with Verizon on "Pink." Or it could just as easily be working with MIC Tanzania on "Burnt Sienna." Your guess.
No Easy Answer
The answer, it seems, won't be coming our way soon -- at least, not in any official sense. We do know, however, that Microsoft and Verizon have been chumming it up lately: The two companies sealed a five-year deal a few months ago that'll make Live Search (or whatever it's going to be called) the default search engine for Verizon Wireless phones. That followed a long-term partnership announced back in 2002 and revisited in 2006.
Consider, too, the rash of other recent rumors around the tech world: Verizon is in talks to bring the iPhone into its network as soon as 2010, those pesky "people familiar with the situation" said earlier this week. (Gee, where have we heard that rumor before?) Yet another set of nameless sources says Apple's plan is to bring a series of new devices exclusively to Verizon, including an "iPhone Lite" and a "media pad" entertainment unit. In the end, it all adds up to a lot of speculation with little substantiated fact.
One thing's for sure: A hot new device, if developed well, would be welcomed news for Ballmer and crew. With iPhone buzz running rampant and Android building momentum of its own, a kick in the keister may just what Microsoft mobile needs -- and "Pink" could be the force that makes it happen. Let's just hope the company avoids its product-naming mistakes of the past and comes up with something a little less pastel.