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Windows Phone 7 to launch in SA on two HTC devices

During a Microsoft event held in Johannesburg yesterday, Mobility Business Group Lead, Nkosi Kumalo and Business Development Manager for Windows Phone, John Press, announced details of the imminent launch of Windows Phone 7 in South Africa.

Despite presenting a demo of Windows Phone 7 on a prototype LG GW910 or “Panther”, it was revealed that only two HTC phones with WP7 will be initially available to South Africans. The two phones are the HTC Mozart and HTC Trophy. While the Mozart will be available on multiple South African carriers, the Trophy will be available exclusively to Vodacom customers.

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Due to Microsoft’s strictly issued hardware requirements, both phones offer similar user experiences, and during hands-on tests today, both were very responsive.

While the Trophy’s 3.8 inch screen is slightly bigger than the Mozart’s 3.7 inch screen, they share very similar specifications. They both sport 1GHz processors, plus 8GB of built-in memory, 720p video recording, 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, Bluetooth, HSPA and Wi-Fi connectivity, and largely unmodified versions of Windows Phone 7.

Despite the exclusive offering to Vodacom customers, the HTC Mozart is marginally superior to the HTC Trophy in two ways. Firstly, the Mozart packs an 8-megapixel camera with auto focus and xenon flash while the Trophy manages only a 5-megapixel camera with a single LED light. Secondly, the Mozart boasts a beautiful aluminum unibody construction.

Mr. Kumalo speculated that pricing for the two handsets would be in the R5000 range, which puts it directly in competition with the likes of the wildly popular Samsung Galaxy S. Due to Windows Phone 7’s tight integration with the Windows Live cloud service, Mr. Kumalo mentioned that Microsoft South Africa would be looking into negotiations with carriers to bring exclusive Microsoft data packages to the data hungry Windows Phone 7 platform.

This type of package would ideally encompass not only data usage for Windows Phone 7 devices, but also for the Xbox Live service.

The release dates for both the HTC Mozart and HTC Trophy are set for later this month, or early December, just in time for the holiday season. Furthermore, it was also mentioned that Samsung and LG handsets are scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2011.

Finally, Mr. Press mentioned that the Windows Marketplace is on the Windows Phone 7 roadmap for South Africa, but that there are no definite details on when it will be launched locally. He also mentioned that Windows Phone 7 has an advertising budget of US$500 million and will be aggressively marketed via the internet in South Africa, but that they would also target traditional advertising channels, and provide training programs for sales staff.

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