updated 12:25 pm EST, Sun February 23, 2014
OEM program, cheaper parts to attract more developers and markets
With the announcement of the next Windows Phone update coming later this year, Microsoft has teamed with Qualcomm in order to expand access to phone creation during a session at Mobile World Congress. The company is pushing to bring the cost of their phones down to appeal to lower-priced markets in hopes of attracting more partners.
To help appeal to partners wishing to build Windows Phone software, Microsoft has introduced a web portal to give developers information on the building process and information on the operating system itself. A reference design program is now offered as well, to help handset companies get a start with an OEM phone with all the necessary parts already designed into it.
According to CNet, the hardware changes that will help drive down the cost of the devices includes the ability to use of different chipsets from Qualcomm -- such as ones without LTE capabilities, and improved usage with SD cards. The previous requirement for three physical buttons on the front of a Windows Phone device, along with a camera button, are no longer operative. However, Microsoft declined to comment if there would be a change in licensing fees for developers, as has been rumored.
Lowering the cost of the Windows Phone is perceived to be the key to helping open up markets untapped before in less-developed countries, and with lower-tier solutions for better market competition. The shift in offerings bring new partners to the table for Microsoft, which announced LG and Lenovo as partners well as a handful of other companies. With the Windows Phone now ranked as third in the mobile market, the shift comes at a time when the company has previously focused only on high-end "premium" smartphones.