Is A Microsoft Branded Smartphone Coming?

First, there was Apple's iPhone, then Google's Android-based GPhone, followed by BlackBerry's Storm. Now is it time for Microsoft to brand it's own smartphone? The rumors are getting stronger, and it seems to me the move would make strategic sense.

According to this latest report, Microsoft is eyeing February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as the launchpad for its own smartphone. That makes sense, too, because that venue will certainly provide the needed heft for an announcement that would impact the global smartphone industry.

Let's face it: Smartphones are red hot right now, and all these new entries are driving competition, applications development and renewed consumer interest. Analysts are bullish on smartphones, even as sales projections for PCs and other tech devices slide. Microsoft's mixed experience with its Zune MP3 player certainly will prove valuable in the smartphone field, and the possibility of a unified device that includes the best qualities of Zune and a mobile phone would be intriguing. (Just think about how Apple's iPhone and iTouch borrow from each other.)

Now is the time for Microsoft to go for it. Hopefully, it will adopt a more "open" approach to features (in areas like battery and storage for just two examples) than Apple has. That could only benefit users.

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