Microsoft's Ballmer expects Windows Phone sales to jump 'quickly'

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer said the company's Windows Phone 8 platform will rapidly capture more market share as it builds on its relatively small user base.

Click here for Steve Ballmer's Windows Phone 8 ad.

"With the work we have done with Nokia (NYSE:NOK), HTC, Samsung and others ... there is now an opportunity to create really a strong third participant in the smartphone market," Ballmer said at an event to launch Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system in Israel, according to Reuters. "We're still relatively small ... I expect the volumes on Windows Phone to really ramp quickly."

According to research firm IDC, Microsoft captured just 2 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter, in contrast with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, which captured 75 percent, and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, which garnered 14.9 percent. There were 3.6 million Microsoft smartphone shipments in the third quarter, according to IDC, up from 1.5 million in the third quarter of 2011.

Ballmer said Microsoft will put its marketing muscle behind Windows 8, its Surface tablet and Windows Phone 8 for the biggest marketing push in the company's history. Those comments echo what Ballmer said last week at a Windows Phone 8 launch event in the United States. Ballmer and other Microsoft executives have said that the new, high-end hardware in the latest Windows Phones, combined with top app developers building Windows Phone 8 offerings, should lead to greater adoption of the platform.

In addition to its own marketing, Microsoft has solid carrier support this holiday season: AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), T-Mobile USA and, perhaps most importantly, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), plan to sell Windows Phone 8 devices this month. AT&T will launch the Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 820 and HTC Windows Phone 8X in November. T-Mobile will release the $99 Lumia 810 and $149 8X. And Verizon will launch the Lumia 822, 8X and in December the Samsung Electronics Ativ Odyssey, presumably a variant of the Ativ S that Samsung announced in late August.

Despite all of those launches, rumors have persisted that Microsoft is planning to build its own smartphone. On Friday the Wall Street Journal and later Bloomberg reported that Microsoft was designing its owns smartphone, perhaps as a backup plan in case the current crop of Windows Phones failed to garner greater market share. Ballmer has left the door open to the possibility of a Microsoft Windows Phone, but he has said the company is pleased with its current hardware partners and the phones they are producing.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this CNET article

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