Microsoft’s Dual Track Strategy for Mobile May Include Sidekick Refresh In 2010

The rumored Project Pink phone may launch on Verizon as soon as Summer 2010

When Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) unveiled Windows Phone 7 last month, we figured that was the extent of its comeback plans in mobile. But now, there’s evidence that the software giant has something else up its sleeve.

Two reports released today from unnamed sources indicate that Microsoft’s “Project Pink” is alive and well. Reuters reports that a new phone could launch with Verizon Wireless as soon as late spring or early summer, beating Windows Phone 7 to market. Separately, Gizmodo reported that based on third-party marketing materials, the phone looks a lot like a Palm (NSDQ: PALM) Pre; is not based on Windows Phone 7; and is likely running on software that Microsoft acquired when it bought Danger, the maker of the T-Mobile Sidekick.

Why Microsoft would choose a two-pronged mobile approach is not clear at this time, but perhaps it feels two platforms is necessary in order to satisfy the various different user bases in the market. Unfortunately, unless it’s done right, it will likely cause confusion and more fragmentation in the space.

Things should become more clear in the upcoming months, perhaps as soon as the end of March when the industry will gather in Las Vegas at CTIA.

For now, Gizmodo has some unconfirmed details about Project Pink (and more here):

— It looks like a Palm Pre.
— Verizon is a launch partner, but may not be the only launch partner.
— The phones aren’t running Windows Phone 7, unless it’s really hidden.
— It’s all about social networking.
— It has apps, which are likely not compatible with Windows Phone 7, so that leaves the door open to another SDK, or maybe suggests that it will be a closed app environment.

Regardless of how Project Pink turns out, it’s encouraging to see Microsoft moving quickly in mobile after taking a hiatus for the past year. At Microsoft’s financial meeting in July 2009, it said it was committed to mobile, and was ear-marking $1 billion in operating expenses for the division. For perspective, that that’s about a quarter of what it spends on PCs, and about half as much as it spends on search and advertising. In a statement, regarding its investments in mobile, a Microsoft spokesperson told us:

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