When Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced its highly anticipated Windows Phone 7 operating system at Mobile World Congress last year, Joe Belfiore was the executive in the hot seat fielding questions from the press and advocating the company's mobile OS overhaul. Belfiore was again front-and-center in October at the Windows Phone 7 press conference in New York, when the company and its partners showcased the first smartphones using Windows Phone 7.
Clearly, Belfiore is Microsoft's go-to guy when it comes to demonstrating WP7 software and explaining all the subtle nuances that distinguish it from the rest of the mobile operating systems on the market.
But Belfiore's job in the coming year certainly won't be easy. Microsoft faces an uphill battle against competitive operating systems such as Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.
Although Microsoft is making progress in the U.S. market--both AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA have launched Windows Phone 7 devices, and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) have said they will launch Windows Phone devices in the first half of this year-- Microsoft still has a long way to go to show critics and consumers that it has a winning OS.
Indeed, just last month a senior LG marketing executive said that so far LG has been underwhelmed by consumer response to Windows Phone 7. Further, NPD Group said that, despite buy-one-get-one promotions at both AT&T and T-Mobile, Windows Phone 7 claimed less market share than its predecessor, Windows Mobile, in the fourth quarter. The firm said Windows Phone 7 also entered the market with lower share than either Android or webOS at their debuts.
Clearly, 2011 will be a make or break year for Microsoft's mobile business, and we believe that all eyes will be on Belfiore to see how this latest OS platform performs.