How would you like a smartphone with Android -- and with Windows Phone? That could become a possibility if Microsoft is successful in a reported effort to add its Windows Phone operating system to HTC Android-based devices.
The report, originating from Bloomberg News on Friday, said that Microsoft has offered its Windows Phone mobile operating system to HTC at little or no cost. The new service cited two unidentified "people with knowledge of the matter," and attributed it to Microsoft's interest in increasing its mobile market share.
The report said that Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft's operating systems unit, approached HTC in September with the idea that the handset maker add Windows Phone as another option on at least some of its handsets. Neither company has commented on the report, although Bloomberg said no decision has been made by HTC.
Jekyll and Hyde
HTC has made phones using Windows Phone as well as some based on Android, but it has not released a Windows-based phone since early summer and has said that no Windows phones are in its pipeline. Microsoft, which recently purchased the mobile devices division of Nokia, currently has a worldwide market share in the vicinity of 3.7 percent for its Windows Phone platform.
It's not clear from the report if Windows Phone would run concurrently with Android, if Android would be the default, or if one could choose to boot either. There are also other questions about whether the data for an application in one OS would be available in the other, such as contacts or photo files.
Microsoft currently charges a license fee for the OS in every Windows Phone device, and also collects royalties on Android devices because of patents.
Ramon Llamas, research analyst for IDC Mobility, described the report as :really curious, kind of a Jekyll and Hyde thing," although he added that he "wasn't sure which one is which."
Want a "Smartphone with Two OSs?"
He compared this Windows/Android idea to having separate personal and corporate identities on a smartphone, such as on a BlackBerry, although he pointed out that such a personal/corporate setup "uses the same OS." Another comparison would be the ability to install and boot Windows on a Mac, in addition to the native OS X. Llamas noted that such a dual identity is usually implemented "for a very specific purpose," such as for a Mac owner who wants access to a Windows-only app.
From the point of view of third party developers, Llamas said he didn't "think it would work" to improve their assessments of the size of Windows Phone's installed base. As for buyers, he said it was unlikely there were many, if any, who would walk into a store or go to a Web site specifically looking "for a smartphone with two OSs."
Yet another possible motive on Microsoft's part could be to ameliorate concerns among manufacturers in the wake of Microsoft's purchase of its own phone maker, Nokia. But, as Llamas pointed out, the bigger makers, like Samsung and HTC, are focused on their own product lines, notably the Android-based Galaxy for Samsung and the Android-based One for HTC.
Posted: 2013-10-07 @ 7:29am PT
I can snark on this article so hard but I'll refrain from doing so... except for this one: clearly Android is the Jekyll in this situation.