Nov 26th, 2008

Industry insiders are claiming that in 2009, Microsoft will release a mobile phone at either the Consumer Electronics Show in January or the 3GSM Conference in February. This isn’t a stunning revelation – the concept of a Zune Phone has churned in the rumor mill ever since Apple had a runaway success with the iPhone. Nonetheless, the implications on the mobile industry would be HUGE.

We’re clearly entering a new Mobile Era with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android climbing the mobile mountain, Microsoft entering the mix would be natural. As of now this is – still – all rumor. Discussion about Microsoft’s internal project called “Project Pink” or “The Pink and Purple Project” has been floating around for quite some time… and it looks like the realities may soon surface.

But wait – I think we need some clarification. While the buzz right now is about a potential Zune Phone…. as in…. hardware, is that necessarily what we’re going to get? When Google had their big mobile announcement to make, many hoped it would be hardware but alas, it was an operating system. And that, ultimately, proved to be the bigger more meaningful move. Could these “insiders” be mistaking Microsoft’s vision for merging their Zune software and Windows Mobile on handsetes from external manufacturers?

A few months back I remember reading about Microsoft synergizing their WinMo offerings by infusing them with a taste of Zune. But at this point, hardware wasn’t in the picture. You know how we feel about analysts, but for what its worth, Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek says there is a “high likelihood” that Microsoft releases a branded Smart Phone in 2009. He further states that the potential for sales is 5-10 million units a year, a figure which could do catastrophic, life ending damage to Motorola and Palm.

While this isn’t directly Android news, this is a development that is too important not to follow.  Three computer companies – Apple, Google and Microsoft – could come to dominate the mobile phone market a few years down the road.

If you couldn’t guess, we’re big fans of Google Android, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get excited about a little competitive pressure. Microsoft releasing an actual, physical phone would mean more options for consumers and better products stemming from increased competitive pressure. It would also mean a more valiantly fought battle in which Android can ultimately destructify (yes, I invented that word) Microsoft.

We’ll be following this story. Very. CLOSELY.

[Via Barrons, Inquirer, CNBC, picture from BGR]