Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Is Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 the Bing of Smartphones?

When Microsoft introduced its refurbished search service called Bing two years ago–at the seventh D: All Things Digital conference, in fact–there were a lot of raised eyebrows about whether it could make any headway into a market in which it was a mere pip-squeak.

And, while it has been a costly effort, few can dispute the fact that the innovative, interesting and cleverly marketed Bing is a perceptual and perhaps even actual hit for the software giant.

Now, can Microsoft (MSFT) do the same with Windows Phone 7, which was launched yesterday?

It will be an interesting effort to watch, given how indisputably late Microsoft has been to the smartphone party now dominated by offerings from Google’s (GOOG) Android and Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone.

BoomTown is no reviewer, nor have I spent a lot of time using the Windows Phone 7.

That said, it seems to have been born in the same green-field spirit of Bing and looks like a welcome entrant into the arena.

And I love the whole cool font thing.

That’s the same way I felt about Bing when it was released, especially since the idea of Google dominating search so completely and dictating change is a prospect I relish about as much I do the idea of living in a small South American banana republic.

Which is to say, not at all.

So, bring on the much-needed competition, even it comes from a company that invented, patented and was sued silly due to the concept of monopolistic domination in tech.

And, for all the daily slog of it, Microsoft’s Bing has been a bright spot in tech and for the company.

The service, which was built from scratch, has improved market share, added a plethora of worthy features and has even made Google sweat a little bit and work a little harder.

And now, due to a search technology and online advertising partnership with Yahoo (YHOO), Microsoft is poised to make some significant headway in its efforts to get into a strong No. 2 spot that could eventually give it the scale and size needed to make some bank.

Of course, the battle in the market for smartphones is even more uphill and difficult to pull off.

Microsoft needs developers to make apps, has to keep innovating on features and cannot acquiesce to wireless carriers, even as it must also get their cooperation for distribution.

And, of course, it has to convince consumers to switch, which is no easy task, and to feel the need for new phones to replace their recently new phones.

It’s a good thing then that Windows Phone 7 looks like Microsoft has at least anted up table stakes to play, delivering a phone that looks pretty good at first glance, much the same way I felt when I saw Bing for the first time.

“Microsoft did that? It’s so pretty,” I said to a long-suffering company exec when I got a demo. “It’s actually good good and not just Microsoft good.”

That was actually a compliment–one I hope to be able to pay again soon.

Until the reviews are all in and consumers have voted, here is a video of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announcing Bing at D7 in an interview with Walt Mossberg: