Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed Nokia will unveil "new devices running Windows Phone" next week at the Nokia World conference in London.
Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Ballmer said he hopes that now that Microsoft has rolled out an extensive software update, Windows Phone 7.5, or Mango, Microsoft's hardware partners will be able to more aggressively release and promote new devices. Interestingly, Ballmer played coy when asked whether Microsoft has any interest in designing its own phones, as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has done with its Nexus line of lead Android devices.
While Ballmer did not say outright that Microsoft will never design its own Windows Phone device, he said the company is "focused on enabling hardware innovation" through its partners, which include HTC, LG, Nokia and Samsung. According to research firm Gartner, Microsoft commanded just 1.6 percent of the global smartphone market in the second quarter, down from 4.9 percent in the year-ago period.
Ballmer also took a swipe at Android, the platform that has come to dominate the global smartphone market, with 43.4 percent of the market in the second quarter, according to Gartner. "You don't need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows Phone, but I think you do to use Android," Ballmer said, adding, "It is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones."
Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president of mobile, said last year that Android has probably done a better job catering to tech-savvy users than consumers in general, and that Google needed to improve on that. However at an appearance Wednesday at AllThingsD's Asia:D conference, Rubin said the latest version of Android, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, is the best version yet and is designed to be intuitive for all users.
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