The market for smartphones is expected to reach 36 million units this year, says Michael King, an analyst with research consultancy Gartner. And while most of Wall Street has decreed that Microsoft would be lucky to achieve even a fifth of its original market-share goal -- about 5% by 2005 -- some analysts say Microsoft might do much better.
Microsoft has made headway signing up service providers to carry its smartphones, especially overseas. Traditionally, carriers have been reluctant to do business with Microsoft because of its reputation for playing hardball with its customers and partners. But they're critical to its success since they're the gateway into the market, especially in the U.S., Japan, and Korea.
Since last year, European operator Orange has sold 70,000 Microsoft-based smartphones. In May, Swedish carrier TeliaSonera agreed to sell them. The same month, retailer Synergy Technologies said it would sell a Microsoft-platform smartphone in Hong Kong. And a Portuguese service provider has agreed to offer carry one as well.