Bing Gets Dedicated Button On New Windows (7) Phones
This morning in Barcelona, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer delivered a keynote address at the GSM Mobile World Congress trade show. I’m not there (regrettably) but I watched most of the keynote live online. Nobody’s really used the new Windows Mobile 7 OS yet though it appears to be a significant upgrade from the disappointing 6.5.
The Zune-inspired Windows 7 Phones won’t be available to consumers until “holiday 2010” however. There are a range of OEM and carrier partners lined up at launch, including AT&T and Sprint in the US.
During the keynote Ballmer and colleagues took indirect shots at Apple and Google, though under the umbrella of “our competitors.” What will be perhaps most interesting to this audience is the inclusion of a dedicated Bing search button on the handset in the same way that Android phones offer a version of that for Google today.
According to the press release out this morning:
Every Windows Phone 7 Series phone will come with a dedicated hardware button for Bing, providing one-click access to search from anywhere on the phone, while a special implementation of Bing search provides intent-specific results, delivering the most relevant Web or local results, depending on the type of query.
The more of these handsets that are sold, the more that Bing should see growth in mobile search volumes. Somewhat ironically, right now the largest source of Bing mobile queries is the iPhone. It’s smart that the Bing team has uncoupled itself from Windows Mobile (see, e.g., its iPhone app) because it has to go where users are to be competitive. However, Bing will ride Windows (7) Phones’ coattails if it succeeds.
Lots will happen with the iPhone and Android (and maybe RIM) between now and when these handsets actually come to market toward the end of the year.
Carriers and operators want to “diversify” their smartphone portfolios and they want a successful Windows OS accordingly. There’s some concern being quitely expressed here and there that Google is starting to “control” Android, in the interest of competing with the iPhone and creating more integrated and coherent user experiences, as with the Nexus One. Embracing an improved Windows Mobile enables them to “hedge.” But it very much remains to be seen whether the new OS and handsets will be popular with consumers.
For its part, Microsoft promises that this is a “new beginning” for its smartphones and for smartphones more generally.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IOTrqlz4jo
Here’s another video from TechCrunch showing how local search operates and (briefly) the dedicated Bing button: