The Microsoft Group is planning to start releasing Android phones in the US next year as it pushes for more business customers and users in emerging markets, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said.
The company has been selling phones with its Windows Phone OS in select cities, but it’s not yet clear when customers will start buying those devices, said Mark Mahaney, an analyst at Sanford.
The launch of a flagship Windows phone could help Microsoft reach more consumers and businesses in emerging countries.
Microsoft launched a Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone in the United States in September.
That device is designed for consumers who want to go beyond Windows Phone and take advantage of the phone’s high-end features like Continuum and Cortana, according a Microsoft representative.
Microsoft also offers its own Windows Phone platform.
A second-generation Windows phone, codenamed the Lumia 1020, is expected to ship in the second half of the year, a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Microsoft is also considering adding Android phones to its Windows Mobile platform, which would give it a foothold in emerging market markets, Mahaney said.
The company is also looking at expanding its portfolio of smartphone OSes, including Windows Phone 7, and could make an Android-based phone as soon as next year.