Windows Phone 8 is here, so what exactly does that mean for Windows Phone 7’s future? Windows Phone 7 might not be the star of Microsoft’s mobile show anymore, but it isn’t dead yet either, at least not on a global scale.
A long while back Microsoft promised that we will see some of the great features from Windows Phone 8 in an update to Windows Phone 7.8, but we really haven’t heard much official word beyond that.
Now Microsoft has finally piped up via an official blog post from Terry Myerson, the corporate VP for Windows Phone.
Windows Phone 7 is coming, but not until early 2013. As for handset support, we already know that the LG Optimus 7 isn’t making the cut, but it probably won’t be the only handset that is being phased out of support.
So what’s actually new in Windows Phone 7.8? According to the post, we hear that there will now be the new Start screen (old news at this point), 20 OS accent colors and an improved lock screen with features such as Bing Picture of the Day.
Not much else is mentioned, though perhaps Microsoft could be holding out on mentioning a few other extras.
The big question is whether any of this matters. Isn’t Windows Phone 7.8 just a token parting gift for Windows Phone users that still are on contract? It might seem that way, but I think Microsoft is looking at the bigger picture here.
In many major markets like the United States, Windows Phone 7 handsets will likely start to disappear from the market in favor of Windows Phone 8.
Still, for major market prepaid and budget accounts, Windows Phone 7.8 handsets could prove to be a great option for consumers that want a simple single-core Windows smartphone.
Additionally, new Windows Phone 7.8 handsets could roll out at lower prices that will allow Microsoft to gain a stronger market share in developing markets in Asia, Africa and other parts of the globe.
Remember that there are still some markets clinging on to ancient versions of Windows Mobile, and these are markets that Microsoft would be foolish to completely ignore.
The key to success among customers looking for a low cost device will be continued app support and reach.
This is exactly what Microsoft is trying to do.
Expanding Windows Phone 7 Marketplace Reach
According to Microsoft’s Todd Brix, the reach of the marketplace is being expanded to more markets across the globe going forward.
Right now Windows Phone 8 has a place in 191 markets but Windows Phone 7 is seeing an increase in support as well, with 95 markets total.
This is up 34 percent from the past, and list is continuing to grow, showing that Microsoft still has an interest in pushing Windows Phone 7.8 to some customers out there.
The big problem I foresee is with apps. This might not be a huge problem in the developing world, where smaller developers might rise up to help expand the library.
Still, if Microsoft does intend to keep Windows Phone 7.8 around for its major market “budget” handsets, they will need to find a way to increase the amount of apps present.
Do you think Windows Phone 7 will have a strong afterlife with developing markets and consumers that need a low-cost device or are its days numbered at this point?