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It's been a tough year for Microsoft in phones; but maybe the tide is turning. Motorola hasn't officially announced it yet, but MoDaCo has sneaked some pics of the new Microsoft-based clamshell phone.

The new phone may just be the first to be based on the new phone operating software, carrying the Windows brand, instead of the Microsoft tag, and the proof will come if the launch mentions Bluetoothamongst the features.

According to Paul O'Brien, who runs MoDaCo, the prototype is based on the old Smartphone 2002, without Bluetooth; but he had no information on when it would launch.

Image courtesy of MoDaCo
Motorola's Microsoft smartphone (courtesy of MoDaCo

Microsoft sources have promised that the Windows-branded Smartphone range will launch this year. It's hard to envisage a launch of a brand-new Motorola phone with only five months of the year left to sell it in before it becomes obsolete.

One possible launch date would be at ITU Telecom World 2003 in Geneva, next October. However, Motorola will be well aware that there will be other Microsoft smartphone launches at that show, and will probably announce the product earlier.

O'Brien said: "The device is slightly smaller than the existing clamshell Smartphone, the Mitac Mio, but doesn't sport an integrated camera. Also unlike the Mio, the phone has no external antenna, and hence sports a very smart, simple design."

Photos show a very generic device, virtually identical in its case to the Mitac and the NEC phones.

But that, too, could be a prototype issue, and Motorola may well have a next generation case ready for the actual launch.

Most phone makers will want to have their products ready for the gift-giving season which starts with November Thanksgiving in the US, and includes the Xmas season in December.

Whatever, and whenever, the Motorola brand - if it goes ahead - will be a big feather in the head-dress of Big Chief Microsoft. It started the year promising five "major" suppliers of its smartphone; Sendo, the pioneer, had dropped out in a blaze of litigation, and Samsung, having announced, postponed.

Sales of the Orange SPV and the new SPV E100 have been largely restricted to the UK and Scandinavia, and haven't exactly swept the market. However, Reuters says that Motorola told the news agency in February that the design is being prepared "mainly in response to US operators' requests."

The easiest explanation for the delay is that the phone network operators are very much afraid of the power of Microsoft to dominate an industry.

The other explanation may be simply that the phone industry believes a smartphone has to have Bluetooth to succeed; and Microsoft can't deliver that technology until it gets the new software ready. ®

Copyright © 2003, NewsWireless.net

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