The jury is still out as to whether or not Microsoft's upcoming mobile OS, Windows Phone 7, will succeed but if AT&T has any influence in the matter, things are looking good for the Redmond-based software manufacturer. Via email, an AT&T spokeswoman said, "We'll be the premier carrier for Windows Phone 7." She continued saying, "We haven't given guidance on timing."
Last week, well-known Altimeter Group analyst Michael Gartenberg sent out a tweet that claimed AT&T had signed up to purchase 8 million Windows Phone 7 devices. He cited an email from a "trusted source" though his comment could not be confirmed. To help put this in perspective, approximately 55 million smartphones shipped globally in the first quarter of this year.
Thus far, we haven't heard much from any of the top four wireless carriers concerning their plans for Windows Phone 7. However, at the announcement of Windows Phone 7 at Mobile World Congress in February, Microsoft confirmed that its US partners included AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless.
For Microsoft, there's great value in getting as many carriers on board the Windows Phone 7 ship as possible, especially considering the company's recent failure with the Microsoft Kin line and the move away from the Windows Mobile 6.x platform. With support from the major US carriers, Microsoft has a better chance for success with Windows Phone 7. In addition to getting carriers on board, Microsoft has also been working with at least five major smartphone manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung, LG, ASUS, and Dell to gain support for the platform.
Carriers are likely watching developers' reactions to the reference hardware phones running Windows Phone 7 that were recently distributed by Microsoft. There have been mixed reactions to the mobile OS, especially with regards to some of the features that will likely be missing from the OS, including support for full multitasking, copy and paste, and a native Twitter client. Some have speculated these features will be coming in future generations of the software.
In recent months, AT&T has praised Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of mobile devices for AT&T, indicated at the CTIA show in March that the carrier was looking forward to selling Windows Phone 7 handsets when they become available. According to Bradley, Microsoft "raised the bar substantially" with regards to Windows Phone 7. He also mentioned the upcoming OS made the devices "very, very comparable to any smartphone on the market."