Microsoft goes after the 99 percenters with Windows Phone

Microsoft wants to be known as the people's smartphone company.

The software giant said today that it had lowered the minimum requirements to build a Windows Phone, a move that allows vendors to construct less-expensive devices that can appeal to more budget-conscious customers and first-time smartphone buyers.

The shift represents an attempt to expand Microsoft's addressable market, vital to the company's bid to regain a measure of relevancy in the smartphone business. The company had previously maintained a strict list of specifications that vendors had to follow, which at the time made the devices fairly high-end. The move comes as Android's momentum in a variety of markets, high and low, continues to gain ground.

"Our strategy over time was to expand the range of price points," said Greg Sullivan, senior product manager for Microsoft, in an interview with CNET.

Microsoft's move follows a similar tack Google took with Android. The Internet search giant initially worked with some key vendors to create some high-end devices, including the initial G1 with HTC and the Motorola Droid. But over time, more vendors started to take Android and put it into more affordable devices, something Google encouraged with its open philosophy. Rather than hit one stratum, Android had become an operating system for everyone. The results are clear: Google is activating 850,000 Android devices each day.


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