Microsoft is pushing to reach a far wider audience for smartphones running its Windows Phone software by turning to cheaper chipsets and easing restrictions on how phone makers use its software to encourage them to drive down costs.
Nick Parker, Microsoft's senior vice-president for handset makers, said the changes have attracted a range of new handset makers to build Windows Phones, including South Korea's LG Electronics, India's Xola and China's Lenovo.
"We are open for business on Windows Phone to anyone who wants to build a Windows phone," Parker said.
Windows Phones typically sell for several hundred US dollars a piece. The sub-$100 smartphone market, however, is dominated by Google's Android operating system, which has lower licensing costs, is more adaptable by device makers, and runs on more, and cheaper, chip sets that run radio and other functions.
Android phones from dozens of handset makers accounted for almost four out of every five smartphones sold, or 781.2 million units, last year, according to Strategy Analytics.
Microsoft was a distant third in market share terms, behind Apple, which shipped 153.4 million smartphones.
Some 5.7 million Windows Mobile units were shipped worldwide, Strategy Analytics said. While it gained a more than 10 per cent share in some markets, for example Italy, other markets like the US remained tough, another Microsoft vice-president, Joe Belgiore, said.