Samsung brings its Windows Phone to the US

Jan 8, 2013

Samsung has finally released its long-awaited entry into the US Windows Phone 8 market, ensuring that it covers all the bases. No surprise that the firm has eschewed the Microsoft-approved multicoloured approach, favoured by Nokia and HTC, and has instead opted for its trademark rounded plastic look (don’t get me wrong, I like Samsung phones, but I get frustrated with the build quality and lack of design imagination).

The ATIV Odyssey will soon be available to US customers via the Verizon network. ATIV, in case you’re wondering, is Vita backwards and is Latin for Life. It’s also Samsung’s brand name for its Windows 8 products.

Samsung used this week’s annual CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas to debut its latest products, which include the Odyssey. The smartphone is LTE-enabled and is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. It has a 4-inch touch screen with 800x480 pixels, 8GB of onboard storage and a 5MP camera, putting it in the ‘mid-range smartphone’ category.

It’s not as well equipped as Samsung’s ATIV S Windows Phone 8, which it launched at the IFA show in Berlin last August. The S has a larger 4.8-inch screen, although it runs on the same 1.5GHz dual-core processor. It has a better 8MP camera, although it only runs on 3G networks up to HSPA+. The ATIV S was technically the world’s first Windows Phone 8 device, although it wasn’t intended as a global phone.

There’s no indication of pricing for the ATIV Odyssey yet, but is likely to be free on contract or sub-$100 at least, given the build quality and specification list – and the urgent need for Microsoft to see increased sales as soon as possible. Whilst it won’t appeal to the tech geeks, who will no doubt regard it as somewhat underwhelming, It could be an ideal alternative to the crowded mid-range Android market.

In other US Windows Phone news, Sprint announced that it will launch two Windows Phones on its network by summer – one each from Samsung and HTC. No specific details yet, but the news that the third largest operator in the US is finally embracing the OS must certainly please Microsoft.

And that really was it for Windows Phone 8 at CES, with precious little news or products. Breaking Android’s stronghold is not going to be easy for Microsoft, and the mood of the team behind Windows Phone 8 can’t have been helped by comments from a Spanish newspaper that Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop could finally be considering Android or HTML5 as alternative strategies to his controversial ‘Windows or bust’ approach.

Meanwhile, Samsung is using the CES show to reinforce its position in the Smart TV sector, as speculation continues to rumble on that Apple will eventually enter this market later in the year. Eric Anderson, VP of content and product solutions at Samsung Electronics America, was bullish about his company’s place in the sector:

“This year Samsung cements its foothold as the Smart TV platform most preferred by customers, developers and content providers alike. Not only does Samsung offer just about every app and service a customer could want, but our new Smart Hub interface makes these apps easier than ever to get to.”

He added that 2013 will be “the beginning of a new era of truly interactive TV” as content providers such as ESPN and Turner deliver apps that supplement live broadcasts with additional information such as statistics and trivia. US viewers will also get a “Shop the Shows” app, powered by Delivery Agent, enabling its Smart TV users to buy goods they see on certain shows.

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