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Open Mobile Summit Senior mobile hardware executives have largely agreed that the mobile operating system market needs a strong offering from Windows Phone 7 to keep the market competitive.

Speaking during a forum at the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco, executives said that Microsoft may be coming late to the sector with a serious operating system, but it was both needed and welcome. Several predicted strong growth for Redmond’s OS next year.

“Apple’s iOS is a closed system,” said Lixin Cheng, CEO of Chinese manufacturer ZTE’s U.S. division. “Android is mainstream, but I do believe the industry needs another operating system to keep competition healthy.”

Having just two operating systems available isn’t good for innovation, particularly when one of the two leading OSes was monopolized by Apple, he said. ZTE will be bringing out a range of Windows Phone 7 handsets in the US within the year, he explained, and the company saw Redmond as a player in the space.

Kevin Packingham, a senior vice president at Samsung, agreed. Samsung is one of the world’s leading Android vendors, but also has a very good relationship with Microsoft, and will be bringing out new Phone 7 handsets shortly.

“I would never characterize Microsoft as a ‘hedge your bets’ strategy,” he said. “We have a great partnership with Google, but Microsoft has done some very innovative things which will make it very popular.”

One firm, however, won’t be using Phone 7: Sony Ericsson. The company’s new chief technology officer Dr. Jan Uddenfeldt said that the company was now a solid Android shop and was also getting out of the feature phone business to concentrate on high-value smartphones, using Google's OS

“The growth in Android has been fantastic, up three times from last year,” he said. “We expect it to expand dramatically next year as well. That's the winning horse.” ®

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