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Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) Windows Phone is finally making a dent in the market. After initially launching in 2010 with an innovative new tile interface, replacing the legacy Windows Mobile platform, the software giant has now grown to become the No. 3 smartphone player.
There have been numerous reasons why Windows Phone is gaining relevance and momentum, but none are more important than strengthening relationships with OEMs and carriers. After all, for a software maker to sell its operating system, it needs someone to make the hardware and someone else to deliver the actual service.
Microsoft is getting second chances at numerous domestic carriers. Windows Phone 7 didn't fare very well on Verizon Wireless initially, but Big Red just recently launched a slew of Windows Phone 8 devices. Microsoft's history with Sprint is similar, with the HTC Arrive running Windows Phone 7 being quietly discontinued last year. Sprint is now about to launch the HTC 8XT, its first Windows Phone 8 device, in a week.
On the OEM front, Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) is easily Microsoft's most important hardware partner. The Finnish company ships the majority of all Windows Phones in the world today, but that hasn't stopped Microsoft from expanding its OEM partnerships. Thus far, Microsoft's most prominent hardware partners are Nokia, Samsung, and HTC. Let's add another major vendor: LG Electronics.
LG's director of India Soon H. Kwon recently told Light Reading India that the South Korean company has a Windows Phone 8 device in the works. The smartphone is still in development at LG's South Korean headquarters. LG continues to gauge the market opportunity and hasn't specified any launch plans quite yet. Kwon reiterated LG's commitment to Google Android -- even though a separate LG exec said the company has no interest in building a new Nexus for Google -- but is confident that Windows Phone will keep gaining momentum as Microsoft continues to put more weight behind it.
LG recently ranked as the No. 3 smartphone vendor in the world behind Samsung and Apple. It more than doubled unit shipments in the first quarter relative to the prior year, and is preparing to launch a new Android flagship, the Optimus G2. LG is a vendor that Microsoft definitely wants in its corner as it continues to strengthen its position with carriers and OEMs alike.
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