Microsoft will today make its biggest-ever pitch to persuade the world to use its mobile phones. The American software giant has signed a deal with Flextronics, the world's largest contract maker of handsets, to develop a new phone, code-named Peabody, which is aimed at the mass market.
Microsoft has been desperate to get into the mobile phone market for several years. Its handsets are sold by 67 networks in 48 countries but its share of the market has been limited by its high prices. It hopes the new phone will be more attractive to operators and is now looking for a major handset name that wants its brand on the phone.
Peabody, a slimmed down version of Microsoft's existing handset, the SPV, has the latest Windows software, Bluetooth and a camera installed.
Microsoft's launch two years ago was dogged by controversy and it fell out with its handset partner, Sendo.
The Birmingham-based firm pulled out of the deal at the last minute accusing Microsoft of sharing confidential technical information with far-eastern manufacturers.
Alan Hadden, president of the Global Mobile Suppliers As sociation, said: "The pieces are fitting into place: you have the network, you have the devices. The challenge now is what are customers going to go for?"
Companies such as Digital Bridges, the UK-based mobile games developer, will be trying to persuade the operators its applications will get customers to do more than just make calls. But Microsoft's John Starkweather, senior product manager for its mobile business, said: "The challenge is to look for the killer application ,especially in Europe where mobile penetration is so high."
Tonight at 6pm, Microsoft will host their press conference, I'm sure we will learn more there.