Microsoft (s msft) will introduce its long-rumored “Pink” handset to market sometime in the next two months, according to a research note released this week by Jefferies & Co. And we may see it come to market alongside dual versions of Windows Mobile that separately target business users and consumers.
The investment firm said Microsoft is working with multiple manufacturers to create a “Zune-like” handset under its own brand. The phone would debut at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month or at CTIA in Las Vegas in March, Jefferies predicts, and Microsoft could release versions of Windows Mobile 7 as the device comes to market. That would be huge news for Microsoft in light of recent reports indicating that the newest version of Microsoft’s mobile OS might not see the light of day until next year.
The prediction comes amid a flurry of rumors regarding WinMo 7, many of which are centered around the operating system’s focus on entertainment and social networking. Jefferies expects the OS to feature premium services including a Zune video store and music offerings, and reports indicate WinMo 7 will support Xbox Live. The latest rumors indicate Microsoft will launch two flavors of Windows Mobile, targeting its traditional core business users with one version and younger consumers with another.
Regardless of when WinMo 7 comes to market, the dual-OS scenario would be Microsoft’s best play to get back in the smartphone race. Windows Mobile has increasingly been relegated to a business niche while Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone and other consumer-friendly gadgets find broad audiences. But a complete shift toward entertainment would risk losing the enterprise segment that represents Microsoft’s core wireless market. Targeting consumers as it continues to serve the business segment would be a big step toward regaining Microsoft’s relevance in mobile.
In-post image courtesy Microsoft.