Both Microsoft and Nokia have repeatedly spoken about the operator friendly nature of the Windows Phone platform, and the idea that operators want to avoid an Android and iOS duopoly by helping to build up a third ecosystem, but while executives at operators are usually happy to agree with such pronouncements, there's been relatively little in the way of concrete commitments to point to in the last six months.
Operator support remains a critical part of achieving sustainable volumes in many markets. Western Europe may not have the operator dominance of the US market, but the vast majority of phones are still bought through operators. Decisions by operators about what phones to range (put on the shelf), how to market them, and instructions to salespeople in high street shops and on phone lines all have a major impact on how well a phone sells.
Today's announcement by Telefónica is therefore a significant feather-in-the-cap for Microsoft and its partners and should help build a positive message for the platform as the second half of the year approaches. Such sentiments are also likely to be given a boost when Nokia announced a substantial growth in Windows Phone volumes when it releases its Q2 results in the third week of July.
While the press release for today's announcement does not go into the specifics the initiative likely includes a co-marketing agreement with both Microsoft and Telefónica investing money into a number of marketing campaigns. Telefónica has also indicated that it will be working with suppliers to "ensure the availability of high-quality devices", suggesting that it will be ranging a greater number of Windows Phone devices.
There is some evidence to suggest that the Windows Phone 8 push is already getting under way. For example, in the UK O2 has been heavily promoting the Nokia Lumia 925 over the last fortnight, affording it one of the coveted spots on the home page of its website.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is one of three phone being promoted on O2 UK's home page.
From the press release:
Telefónica today announced the establishment of an enhanced marketing effort with Microsoft that aims to boost the sales of Windows Phone 8 devices. Initially for a period of one year, Telefónica will enhance marketing activities in support of its Windows Phone 8 devices in the U.K., Germany, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Chile.
Telefónica, through its Global Devices area, and in collaboration with all its business units, is firmly committed to enhancing its commercial offering mobile devices to encourage the presence of additional mobile operating platforms as an alternative to the current duopoly of Android and iOS, and provide customers with a more personal smartphone experience like Windows Phone offers.
In this way, the Spanish multinational is reinforcing its commitment to pave the way for a much more competitive market. Promoting the use of Windows Phone 8 will benefit customers, as there will be more options to choose from while diluting the polarisation of installed base in operating platforms.
Telefónica plans to offer its clients enterprise-class business features such as Office 365 and SharePoint, as well as consumer-facing features such as Skydrive and Xbox in a mobile environment connected to the Internet, aiming to increase distribution of Windows Phone 8 devices through the collaboration with Microsoft.
As part of the commitment, Telefónica will encourage growth in market demand for Windows Phone 8 while working with suppliers to ensure the availability of high-quality devices. It will be working with the leading manufacturers of Windows Phone 8 devices to make their commercial offering available throughout the duration of this enhanced marketing effort with Microsoft.