Microsoft announced today that new Windows Phone handsets are on the way this year from Acer, Fujitsu and Chinese mobile phone manufacturer ZTE. By adding additional OEM manufacturers to their existing partners, it is expected Microsoft will be able to reach a broader range of price points and attract a larger audience. The devices will ship with the first really dramatic update to Windows Phone 7, 'Mango'.
Fast entry into the Asian market, particularly the Chinese market, is seen as a critical step for the success of Windows Phone and Microsoft's partnership with ZTE will help accelerate that.
Currently ZTE are the second largest mobile phone manufacturer in China - and the forth largest globally. The Shenzen headquartered firm have grown rapidly since an initially IPO on the Shenzen stock market in 1997, and another on the Hong Kong stock market. They currently sell handset to many major mobile carriers including Vodafone (UK), Telefonica (Spain) and Telstra (Australia).
In addition, Microsoft has confirmed new Windows Phone Mango devices will ship this year from all their existing Windows Phone 7 partners: HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell.
It is anticipated that most handset makers will launch new handsets in the September or October timeframe although Microsoft has not confirmed specific dates. Instead they advised that Windows Phone Mango will be released less than 12-months after the initial release of Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft made no announcement about when the first Nokia Windows Phone handsets would launch other than to highlight they currently have sample Nokia handsets in their labs. It is expected by many that Nokia will launch at least one Windows Phone handset before the end of 2011.