Microsoft Actually Decided Months Ago Not To Use Verizon As Windows Phone 7 Launch Partner

steve ballmer, kin oneWay to go, Kin.

An article on Bloomberg yesterday seemed shocking: That Verizon Wireless, the no. 1 U.S. wireless carrier, wouldn’t be carrying Microsoft’s new Windows 7 phones at launch.It seemed like a giant slap in the face for Microsoft, as Bloomberg called it “a blow to the software maker’s efforts to reach a broad market.” The Wall Street Journal even felt compelled to write about it.

But it turns out that Microsoft hadn’t been planning on this for months. A source tells us that Verizon was “never signed up to be a launch partner.”

Indeed, way back in late June, Engadget reported that Microsoft wouldn’t launch Windows Phone 7 at Verizon, in part because of the Microsoft Kin flop. (Emphasis ours.)

“Our source says that the fallout from this troubled [Kin] partnership is that Microsoft has backed away from Verizon as a Windows Phone 7 launch partner, claiming that the first handsets you see won’t be offered on the CDMA carrier — rather that we should expect GSM partners to get first crack.”

So if there was a change of heart, or a slap in the face on either company’s part, it was a long time ago, and not this week or this month. (We’d love to hear the back story on that.) It’s always possible something changed again. But neither Bloomberg nor the WSJ claim in their stories that this was a recent development. Because it probably isn’t.

And by the way, while launching Windows Phone 7 without Verizon’s support may seem odd, it’s not unprecedented for new smartphone platforms. Both Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android launched without any help from Verizon, and they did just fine. You could argue that much of Android’s U.S. success later came from Verizon, and that Apple desperately needs to sell the iPhone there now, but that’s a different story.

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