Telstra to unveil Windows Phone 7 plans next week

In a briefing in August, Telstra would only say that there would be a number of different handsets available to consumers at launch

Microsoft and Telstra have scheduled in a ritzy Sydney launch next Tuesday morning to unveil their mutual plans to start selling phones with the software giant’s Windows Phone 7 platform.

The event will be held at Sydney’s Luxe Studios, an exclusive state of the art development facility which is also used for events. In attendance will be Microsoft Australia chief executive Tracey Fellows and Telstra chief marketing officer Kate McKenzie.

So far, the pair have not revealed any details of the handsets, plans or bundled content and applications they will go to market with for Windows Phone 7, which was first unveiled back in February.

In a briefing in August, Telstra would only say that there would be a number of different handsets available to consumers at launch, and the devices were slated to go on sale before Christmas, and that its Hub application would be featured on Windows Phone 7.

The software constitutes a news, application and entertainment portal, although Telstra is still working on the video streaming aspect and is being developed by local startup development house Xamling. Fairfax is also developing software to run on Windows Phone 7.

The news comes as competition in the smartphone market is running white hot. Telstra this morning released what it called its “Smartphone index” — a piece of research put together by Nielsen that showed Australia was currently obsessed with the multi-function devices.

A wave of smartphones based on Google’s Android platform is currently hitting the market in time for Christmas, and Apple’s iPhone 4 has suffered stock shortage problems due to demand over the past several months. Nokia, too, is refusing to be left out, with its flagship N8 handset soon to launch in Australia, although the company has not yet said precisely how the device will launch in Australia.

Nielsen’s research suggested that 36 percent of Australians with mobile phones owned a smartphone, with that number to grow to more than half within the next 12 months.

And there were some surprising usage patterns — more than half of smartphone owners admitted to using their phone in bed, one third have used their phone to surf the web while on the toilet, and one in five Australian drivers admit to surfing the web on their smartphone while driving.

“Over the past 12 months we’ve seen huge growth in the popularity of smartphones and they now make up more than half of all Next G™ handset sales in Telstra Stores Australia-wide,” said Telstra Consumer executive director Rebekah O’Flaherty.

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