HTC to debut first Windows Phone 7 smartphone in Q4

The company expects Microsoft's new OS to lead to much broader app development

High Tech Computer (HTC), the world's biggest maker of smartphones running Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system (OS) and Google's Android mobile OS, plans to launch its first smartphone with Microsoft's latest offering, Windows Phone 7, in the fourth quarter of this year.

"We will have a full-featured smartphone for Windows Phone 7 out in the fourth quarter of this year, but I can't tell you any more than that," said Peter Chou, president of HTC, at a briefing ahead of the Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona this week.

HTC, which often gains an early look at new software to test in new smartphone designs, has predicted that the launch of the new Windows Phone 7 OS will lead to greater app development efforts. Microsoft already offers hundreds of apps on its Web site.

Since it opened in 1997, HTC has worked with Microsoft software in small devices, from Windows CE to Pocket PC 2000 and then Windows Mobile. The company has been an important ally for Microsoft in popularizing Windows Mobile with sleek smartphone designs.

Microsoft changed the name of its Pocket PC OS to take on the Windows Mobile moniker in 2003, a change that has lasted until now. Windows Phone 7 is an attempt by the software giant to regain traction in mobile phone OSs.

The company has been losing market share in the mobile segment against surging rivals such as Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry OS, Apple's iPhone OS and Google's Android OS.

The Windows Mobile OS ended 2009 in fourth place of the global smartphone market, by number of units, with an 8.8 percent share, down from 13.9 percent in 2008, according to market researcher Canalys. Google's Android OS was behind Microsoft in fifth place in global share at 4.7 percent, up from 0.5 percent in 2008, while third-place Apple leaped to 15.1 percent from 9.6 percent and second-place RIM rose to 20.8 percent from 16.5 percent.

Symbian, the leading smartphone OS, also lost share, dropping to 47.2 percent in 2009 from 52.4 percent a year earlier.

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