U.S. Cellular launched its first smartphone running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 platform, the HTC 7 Pro. The device promises to be the first in a wave from the Tier 2 carrier; U.S. Cellular said last week that by year-end it will sell seven new smartphones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform (including one LTE smartphone), two tablets as well as the 7 Pro.
Click here for details on the HTC 7 Pro for U.S. Cellular
U.S. Cellular, which operates in 26 states and counts around 6 million subscribers, will sell the 7 Pro for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. The HTC 7 Pro is similar in many respects to the HTC Arrive, Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) first, and so far only, Windows Phone device. The 7 Pro sports a 3.6-inch screen, slide-out Qwerty keyboard, 1 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon processor and a 5-megapixel camera.
For Microsoft, the expansion into the Tier 2 carrier space is certainly a welcome sign as its Windows Phone platform matures. Microsoft has planned a strong overseas push in the second half of the year for the platform, and could get an extra boost from Tier 2 carriers in the United States. (Leap Wireless' (NASDAQ:LEAP) Cricket has expressed interest in supporting Windows Phone, but hasn't announced anything specific yet.)
U.S. GSM carriers AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA first supported Windows Phone when it launched last year. U.S. CDMA carriers recently joined the bandwagon: Sprint launched the Arrive in March and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) recently began selling its first Windows Phone device, the HTC Trophy.
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