Social networking phone by Microsoft to be launched

Verizon Wireless, the largest US wireless carrier, will introduce two phones from Microsoft Corp in about May or June that are targeted

at teenagers, two people with knowledge of the companies’ plans said.

The models will have easy access to social-networking sites and include keyboards for text messaging, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. The phones will be made by Sharp Corp and carry the Microsoft and Verizon Wireless brands, the other person said.

Until now, Microsoft has focused on providing its mobile Windows software to phone makers, rather than offering a model under its own brand. The move would parallel Google Inc.’s decision to sell the Nexus One phone, which uses that company’s Android operating system. Microsoft is seeking to recapture a larger share of the phone market after Android and Apple Inc’s iPhone lured away customers from Windows.

By moving directly into wireless phones, Microsoft and Google could risk hurting their relationships with other manufacturers and service providers. Microsoft will continue to work closely with handset companies that make Windows phones and the mobile carriers that sell them, the person said.

Microsoft executive Robbie Bach, who oversees the mobile- phone business, said in January that it would be “very, very difficult” for Google to sell its own phone while keeping manufacturers and carriers for other Android handsets happy.

Different tack
With its phone, Microsoft will take a different tack than Google, said the person familiar with the matter. While the Nexus One is only available from Google, Microsoft’s phone will be sold by Verizon, the person said. The phone stemmed from a Microsoft project code-named “Pink.”

Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Basking Ridge, New Jersey- based Verizon Wireless, declined to comment, as did Jay Cudal, a spokesman for Microsoft. Chris Loncto, a spokesman for Osaka, Japan-based Sharp, also declined to comment.


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