Microsoft's Windows Phone sees slight uptick in U.S. market share

Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone gained a slight bit of U.S. market share in April after stabilizing its decline in February in March, according to the latest data from research firm comScore. The early April introduction of Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) flagship Windows Phone smartphone, the Lumia 900, likely helped keep Microsoft's numbers afloat.

Click here to see the changes in smartphone OS market shares during the past three years.

According to the comScore data, Microsoft's U.S. smartphone share stood at 4 percent in April, a fraction of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android (50.8 percent) Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS (31.4 percent) and Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry (11.6 percent). Still, Microsoft's share ticked up in April from 3.9 percent, which it held in February and March.

Microsoft's U.S. market share slipped all through last year, according to comScore, falling from 8 percent in January 2011 to 5.4 percent in January 2012, as Apple's iPhone 4S and a slew of Android devices gobbled up market share.  

Microsoft has likely benefited from both the continued sales of Nokia's Lumia 710 on T-Mobile USA and the Lumia 900 on AT&T, which AT&T has been hyping heavily since it went on sale April 8 for $99.99. Nokia has not said how many phones it sold through T-Mobile since the Lumia 710 went on sale Jan. 11. Nokia did indicate during its first-quarter earnings that it sold 600,000 total handset units in the first quarter in North America. Nokia and AT&T have said that Lumia 900 sales have exceeded their expectations.

Still, times are tough for Microsoft. The company is hoping that the next version of its mobile software, Windows Phone 8 (a.k.a. "Apollo"), will garner more interest from carriers and consumers. Microsoft is holding a developer summit June 20 where it will give developers "a sneak peak at the future of Windows Phone." Windows Phone 8 is widely expected to support, among other features, multi-core processors, new screen resolutions, Near Field Communications technology to support mobile wallet features, and more integrated Skype functionality.  

More carriers appear ready to take the plunge with Windows Phone 8. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has already said it wants to do for Windows Phone what it did for Android--but that it will wait for Windows Phone 8 before doing so. Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) recently said it is in final discussions with Microsoft and unnamed device vendors to sell prepaid Windows Phone 8 devices sometime later this year or early next year. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) executives have also said the carrier is interested in Apollo.

In other Windows Phone news, Intel said it might be willing to support Windows Phone on it X86 chipset architecture if the platform can gain more steam in the market. "We would be [interested] when we see that this market has a good chance to return our money that we have invested into this," Hermann Eul, president of Intel's Mobile Communications Group, said during an interview with IDG News Service at the Computex trade show in Taiwan. "Our roadmap has devices that can support Windows also on phones. So we can do that. The hooks for doing that [are] there."

For more:
- see this The Verge article
- see this ZDNet article
- see this IDG News Service article

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