Immediately following the release of the Microsoft Surface in November, Microsoft sent its Windows head Steven Sinofsky packing. Just a couple of months later, he is already trying out a new platform: iOS.
We were tipped to a tweet from Sinofsky (@stevesi) from January 11th that was sent from Twitter for iPhone. We soon discovered a second tweet from the same platform on January 4th. Sinofsky is still tweeting from his Microsoft Surface and the Web, but we don’t see as many Windows Phone-based tweets as we do earlier in his Twitter timeline.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been making the rounds following the launch of Windows 8 and Surface, and yesterday he sat down for an interview in Santa Clara with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. TechCrunch pointed us to audio from the interview (embedded above), where Ballmer is asked about the role of Windows Phone 8 within the iOS- and Android-dominated smartphone market. Ballmer famously laughed about the iPhone’s high price point back in 2007, but apparently, the Microsoft CEO still thinks iPhones are priced too high. While claiming Android’s ecosystem is “not always in the consumer’s best interest,” Ballmer made a point of mentioning the high cost of iPhones abroad:
The ecosystem of Android is a little bit wild, from an app compatibility perspective, a malware perspective… maybe in a way that’s not always in the consumer’s best interest… conversely, the Apple ecosystem looks highly controlled, and by the way, quite high priced. The fact that we live in a country where almost every phone is subsidized, you may forget it. But I was in Russia last week where you pay $1000 for an iPhone.. you’re not going to sell that many iPhones… The question is how do you get the quality, but maybe not the premium price. A controlled, but maybe not quite as controlled ecosystem.
The iPhone 5 is a significant improvement over the iPhone 4S in nearly every regard, and in those areas that didn’t see an upgrade over its predecessor — camera, storage capacity — one could make a strong case that the iPhone 4S was already ahead of the curve. Every area, that is, except for the OS. If anything, it’s the operating system here that’s beginning to feel a bit dated and beginning to show its age.
Still, the iPhone 5 absolutely shines. Pick your benchmark and you’ll find Apple’s thin new weapon sitting at or near the top. Will it convince you to give up your Android or Windows Phone ways and join the iOS side? Maybe, maybe not. Will it wow you? Hold it in your hand — you might be surprised. For the iOS faithful this is a no-brainer upgrade. This is without a doubt the best iPhone yet. This is a hallmark of design. This is the one you’ve been waiting for.
Many of us have experience with LTE from using the iPad. I’ll tell you it’s great to see it on the iPhone. I actually use LTE more on the iPhone than I do on the iPad, simply because I use the phone a lot more. The speed is incredibly fast, especially when compared to what the iPhone 4S could do.
Like the faster processor and graphics, LTE gives you the feeling of never waiting for anything. Apps open fast and you are ready to work or browse the Web right away.
Specificationists will say that with the iPhone 5 Apple is now behind its rivals in terms of features but in truth it’s hard to think of a feature offered elsewhere that the average person – as opposed to the tech obsessive – really needs. NFC is not sufficiently widely used, wireless charging is nice but still requires a charger plugged into the wall and most people get along fine without removable storage. The iPhone 5 is a great smartphone made even better. It’s fast, lightweight and backed by the largest application store for any device. It’s also probably the most beautiful smartphone anyone has ever made.
Update: AT&T seemed none-too-pleased with the allegations and gave us the following statement:
The idea that we would steer any customer away from a particular device couldn’t be more farfetched. Our reps do what it takes to align customer needs with the best device for them. iPhone remains one of our most popular devices, which doesn’t happen by steering people away from it. Our reps are encouraged to try all devices so they are more knowledgeable on our industry-leading smartphone lineup.
@9to5mac doing it to avoid complaints from customers when the new iPhone launches?
We heard reports in the past that retail employees at other carriers were instructed by higher-ups to push Android and other alternative smartphone options to customers interested in the iPhone. However, BGR claimed today that AT&T’s slow 3 percent growth of iPhone activations in the second quarter was likely the result of a similar strategy. Although iPhone activations made up roughly 73 percent of smartphones in AT&T’s Q2 report, the initiative has apparently been confirmed by three independent sources:
Regional retail sales managers at AT&T have been instructing store managers to pump the brakes on Apple’s iPhone. Instructions handed down from corporate state that customers seeking smartphones at AT&T retail stores should be steered away from Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and towards Android phones or Windows Phone handsets like the Nokia Lumia 900 instead. BGR has confirmed the directive with three independent sources
@markgurman last week my AT&T store rep told me they took back all company Androids and gave them all Lumias
The report also claimed that one source indicated iPhone sales dropped from 80 percent to 50- to 60- percent of smartphone sales, at least in one region, since the initiative began. BGR also claimed retail staffs at AT&T in some regions are forced to choose an Android or Windows device over the iPhone for their company phone. We reached to AT&T for a comment and will update this post shortly when we hear back.
…For the first time ever, two-thirds of new phone acquirers are buying smartphones.
Smartphone use is exploding in the United States, while PC sales are dropping. If 66 percent of mobile phone buyers purchase smartphones, and 36.3-percent of them get the iPhone, then that means almost a quarter of all phones bought in the U.S. are iPhones. That also means 36 percent of the purchased phones run Android OS.
More from Nielsen, including the incredibly skewed graphic, is below—which gives Symbian, Palm and Windows 7 devices almost the same amount of “fill” at 2.8-percent as Apple’s 34 percent.
Microsoft is allegedly prepping to directly compete with Apple in the tablet market
The Redmond, Wash.-based Company scheduled an event in Los Angeles on Monday to make a “major announcement.” AllThingsD reported earlier this week that the event would unveil Microsoft’s tablet plans:
After signaling for months that it would attack the market only through its traditional hardware partners, Microsoft has decided to enter the tablet business more directly. [...]
Sources say that Microsoft concluded that it needs its own tablet, with the company designing both the hardware and software in an effort to better compete against Apple’s strengths. Microsoft’s tablets may include machines running ARM-based processors as well as models running on traditional PC processors, sources said.
Perhaps more interesting: The Wrap claimed Microsoft will self-manufacture the device, which is an assertion that AllThingsD supports. The move is certainly plausible, because Microsoft snatched a 17.6-percent stake in Barnes and Noble’s Nook eReader business last month for $300 million. One could speculate that Apple and Amazon’s dominating presence in the market causes companies like Microsoft and Barnes and Noble to join forces.
Possible names for Microsoft tablet: Tablet PC 2013, WinSlate, iWindows, Metro One, UnPocketable PC, Bing to Go, ZuneTab, TabZune