Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer panned Android phones, hinting at the company’s desire to become a stronger competitor against the leading smartphone platform.
“You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone. And I think you do to use an Android phone,” Balmer said at the close of the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco when asked to compare Windows phones to those that use the Android OS.
Google’s Android operating system is in a solid position as the world’s largest smartphone platform, but Windows-powered phones may be positioned for future growth. More than 40 percent of smartphone owners and people who intend to buy one are considering purchasing a Windows Phone 7 device, according to a recent report.
The Redmond, Wash.-based tech company trails far behind both Android and Apple with just a two percent share of the smartphone market, but recent moves by Microsoft point to its plans to compete more strongly against Android and iOS.
Microsoft released its first Windows phone software update, Mango, this year. Mango has a simple, tiled user interface, multitasking capabilities, an updated Internet Explorer and deeper integration with Facebook.
By simplifying and enhancing its phone software, Windows perhaps hopes to match the friendly user experience provided by Apple’s iPhone and further define itself as more intuitive than Android.
On the manufacturing side, Microsoft’s partnership with handset maker Nokia may give the company an edge, especially in overseas markets where Android is currently the OS of choice.
But Ballmer made it clear that the Windows phone is not the only product Microsoft is looking to grow. When asked to address the company’s lack of a social media presence in the face of recently launched Google+, Ballmer said Microsoft will continue to focus on connecting consumers via products like the Bing search engine, the Xbox, and others.
The company’s recent Skype acquisition also addresses the desire for increased connection, and integration of Skype’s video chat capabilities on Windows phones may help boost their popularity.
Comments about Android’s technicality aside, as Microsoft ramps up its Windows phones and its overall strategy for a fourth-quarter push, it may gain some competitive points.