Microsoft is devoting most of its presence at this year?s trade show to its €100 "Smoked by Windows Phone" challenge, an international version of the campaign introduced at CES. Attendees are being invited to pit their smartphone against Windows Phone to complete everyday tasks such as uploading a photo to Facebook, texting a friend, or checking email. If the challenger?s phone is faster, they win €100. If they lose, they must pose for the cameras with a sign that reads "My Phone Just Got Smoked by Windows Phone."
"This year's Mobile World Congress really represents the culmination of the journey we've been on over the past two years," he said. "After announcing the new approach we decided to take with smartphones, we're now shining a light on how that different approach results in a phone that is simply faster than the competition."
Two announcements made in Barcelona help fan that feeling of momentum, he said. The first involved the addition of Skype for Windows Phone. A beta version is available for download now with the full-featured version due later this year. The beta app has features that Skype?s 200 million average monthly connected users are already familiar with, including Skype-to-Skype audio and video calling, affordable calls to landlines and mobile with Skype Credit, and IM.
The Skype team took full advantage of Windows Phone's Metro design while building the app. Users will see its simplicity in how the app pivots around two key content areas: contacts and messages, where recent calls, IMs, and voice mails will be grouped together.
The company also unveiled plans to bring its smartphones to host a new of countries by expanding hardware and language support. A new line of low-cost phones, which use cheaper "system-on-a-chip" processers and reduced memory, will bring a high-end smartphone experience to more affordable devices ? while still running nearly all the applications available in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Microsoft's support for a new series of lower-cost hardware opens the door to new markets worldwide such as China, Sullivan said. The company recently enabled Windows Phone Marketplace in Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru and the Philippines, and in the coming week will bring it to 23 additional countries: Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Earlier at MWC, Nokia introduced a fourth member to the Lumia family, the 610, and announced that it will bring its entire Lumia line to China. Based on a lower-cost chip and a smaller memory configuration, the 610 will be the most affordable phone in the Lumia line.
China's ZTE also announced a lower-cost smartphone, the Orbit. The ZTE Orbit comes with 4GB of memory, HD Voice, and a 5Mpx autofocus camera with LED flash. The ZTE Orbit will be available in the second quarter of this year.
Launched on 18 January, the ZTE Tania is another Windows Phone device, with a chassis measuring just 10.7mm in depth, 4GB internal storage and a 4.3 inch touch screen. It is powered by a 1GHz processor and comes with a WVGA 800 x 480px screen. The ZTE Tania is expected to be available in stores in the UK in early April at tariff points in the &pounnd;10-20 range.