Is Microsoft working on an iPhone killer?

29 Apr 2009

Codenamed ‘Pink’, a new multimedia device that software giant Microsoft is rumoured to be developing could be the Seattle firm’s answer to Apple’s breakthrough iPhone device.

A report in the Wall Street Journal suggests Microsoft is in talks with Verizon Wireless about bringing out the touchscreen device early next year.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Balmer is understood to have met with Verizon and wants to energise a mobile business that he reckons has lost its buzz in recent months.

The success of the iPhone in rejuvenating the mobile business in recent years is undeniable, with some 17 million iPhone devices sold and a whole new software marketplace created for downloadable apps.

Last week Apple reported it had sold the one billionth iPhone app via its iTunes App Store.

Verizon is understood to be planning a push on a number of fronts to take on its arch competitor AT&T, and is also rumoured to have been talking to Apple about the forthcoming Media Pad and iPhone Lite products.

The new ‘Pink’ multimedia device is understood to come with software capabilities that will extend Microsoft’s operating system to the mobile world. It is also likely the device will lead to the creation of a Windows mobile software marketplace, where applications can be downloaded.

This is a burgeoning marketplace that Microsoft cannot afford to ignore. Apple’s success has been obvious, while Google has partnered with a number of manufacturers for its Android mobile operating system and this has translated well into a new genre of netbooks.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft and Verizon have been working on the ‘Pink’ project for several months.

The team at work in Microsoft consists of former employees of Danger Inc, a firm Microsoft acquired over a year ago and which was instrumental in the creation of T-Mobile’s Sidekick device.

In a separate development, Verizon and Vodafone are hard at work developing a mobile software store focused on the business market.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Microsoft chief executive, Steve Ballmer

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years