According to Microsoft senior product manager Greg Sullivan, Microsoft has decided to delay the production of its CDMA Windows Phone 7 handsets until 2011. All Windows Phone 7 handsets released in 2010 will be GSM-only, limiting the US launch to AT&T and T-Mobile only. This disclosure follows a statement by Verizon Wireless that suggested the carrier would not add a Windows Phone 7 handset to its lineup until 2011.
The decision to delay the CDMA version was a trade-off. Sullivan points out that Microsoft has limited resources; instead of releasing the handset with lots of things done mediocre, the software giant “chose intentionally to do fewer things really, really well.” Microsoft noted that GSM has a larger worldwide subscriber base and, as a result, gave its GSM version priority over its CDMA variant.
All hope is not lost as a CDMA version is still under production and is slated for release in the first half of 2011. Unfortunately, both Verizon Wireless and Sprint customers bear the brunt of this decision and are now forced wait several months before they can snag a Windows Phone 7 handset.
While Sullivan publicly explains this decision by discussing tradeoffs and prioritizing features, one can’t help but wonder if Microsoft’s Kin debacle had any impact on this decision. The Kin One and Kin Two launched on Verizon Wireless with much fanfare earlier this year. The Kin’s quick demise reportedly lead to a lot of internal finger-pointing. The juicy rumor suggested that Verizon Wireless was unhappy with the long development cycle of the Kin devices. Likewise, Microsoft was unhappy with Verizon’s decision to launch the device with a $30 data plan, a burdensome requirement that killed any chance of success for the two messaging-centric devices.
Publicly, both companies maintain that their relationship is not strained and both are still on good working terms. Behind closed doors, though, all gloves are taken off and I cant help but wonder if this is Microsoft’s way of snubbing its nose at Verizon Wireless for its $240 million loss.