Microsoft's big bet on its mobile comeback is finally being put to the test.
AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA started selling the first Windows Phone 7 devices Monday, and Microsoft is counting on their support, along with a $100 million marketing campaign, to get the platform off the ground.
AT&T is selling the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround, and T-Mobile is pushing the HTC HD7; all of the phones are being sold for $199.99 with a two-year contract. In the coming weeks AT&T also will launch the LG Quantum and T-Mobile will roll out the Dell Venue Pro. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is on tap for at least one Windows Phone 7 device: HTC has said the nation's No. 3 carrier will sell the HTC 7 Pro sometime in the first half of next year.
Microsoft has a great deal of ground to make up against larger smartphone rivals, including Google's Android platform and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS. The company will not only have to capture consumer's mindshare, but also build up its developer community. Currently, Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace has around 1,000 apps, compared with around 100,00 in the Android Market and over 250,000 in Apple's App Store.
"It's going to be difficult to break through, but we're going to pull all of the levers coordinating our marketing approach," Greg Sullivan, Microsoft's senior product manager for Windows Phone 7, told CNN Money. "Our message is going to be clear: This is a phone that does stuff for you."
AT&T also is heavily promoting the platform with an advertising campaign and displays across most of its 2,200 retail stores. AT&T will focus its approach on how Windows Phone 7 integrates with other Microsoft offerings, including its Xbox Live gaming service and its Zune music service.
Microsoft offers 'smart design' with Windows Phone 7 refresh
Microsoft unveils Windows Phone 7, partners with AT&T and T-Mobile
Microsoft's Ballmer pumps up Windows Phone 7 ahead of launch
Report: Microsoft, AT&T launching Windows Phone 7 Oct. 11
Windows Phone 7 will only be on GSM networks at launch
Rumor Mill: Microsoft might spend up to $1B launching Windows Phone 7
AT&T vows to become 'premier carrier for Windows Phone 7'