Microsoft’s new phones off to a favorable start

Microsoft Corp.’s last-ditch attempt to make an impact on the fast-growing market for multi-featured smartphones won favorable early reviews yesterday, but success will hinge on how well the phones are marketed against Apple Inc. and Google Inc., analysts said.

The world’s largest software company said it would spend more than $100 million on marketing the phones, along with handset makers and network carriers, including heavy television advertising in the holiday shopping season, as it tries to vault back into the mobile market, which many see as the key to the future of computing.

The lineup of nine new phones from Samsung, LG, HTC and Dell will start to appear in stores later this month in Europe, and in November in the United States on AT&T’s network.

The handsets are much closer in look and feel to Apple’s iPhone, with colorful touch-screens and “live tiles” for easy access to e-mail, the Web, music and, exclusively, games on the Xbox system.

“This is Microsoft’s last chance to be a major player in the smartphone market,” said analyst Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates. “Microsoft will be required to undertake a massive consumer-education campaign if it wants to stand a chance of differentiating itself from iPhone and Android, which have far greater market presence.”


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