Verizon Wireless will be selling multiple Windows Phone 8 devices in the fourth quarter, CNET has learned.
The nation's largest carrier hasn't been the most enthusiastic partner to Microsoft and the Windows Phone platform, but Verizon appears to be more bullish.
"We'll sell multiple Windows Phones in the fourth quarter," Verizon Chief Marketing Officer Tami Erwin told CNET.
The Windows Phone platform, largely championed by Nokia and, to a lesser extent, Samsung Electronics, HTC, and LG, among others, has struggled to find an audience. Consumers instead continue to flock to Android and Apple's iOS, which powers the iPhone and iPad.
Getting a new Windows Phone on to Verizon is important because it's the nation's largest wireless carrier, opening up a potentially large base customers to the platform. It would be an important step toward Microsoft's goal of turning Windows Phone into a mainstream operating system, as opposed to the niche player that it is now. Right now, the only Windows Phone in Verizon's lineup is the aging HTC Trophy.
Indeed, the carriers may take a harder look at Windows Phone 8 with Microsoft making a simultaneous push to promote Windows 8, which shares the live tiles experience. So far, AT&T and T-Mobile USA in the U.S. have bet on Windows Phone and Nokia, with largely mixed results.
Will Nokia be in the mix in the fourth quarter? Marni Walden, chief operating officer of Verizon, told CNET that the carrier plans to work with Nokia, but didn't give a timeline on when this would happen. She added that the work that Nokia has done on design, the use of colors, and the creating a portfolio of accessories is encouraging, but noted that the company still needed to work its way back into the U.S. market.
"We continue to have healthy conversations with Nokia," she said.
Nokia showed off its next-generation Lumia smartphones, including the flagship Lumia 920 and lower end Lumia 820, at an event in New York. Ilari Nurmi, vice president of product marketing for Nokia, declined to comment to CNET on whether Verizon or AT&T would be a potential carrier partner for its phones. CEO Stephen Elop told reporters that he expected a launch in select markets in the fourth quarter, but didn't specify which ones.
Erwin didn't say whether Nokia would be supply a Verizon phone in the fourth quarter, but noted she was excited by the Nokia announcement.
Verizon wants to expand its portfolio of products. Erwin said it was all about giving consumers choice, but none of the carriers want to be too deeply tied to one, or even two, operating systems. With iOS and Android so dominant, the carriers want a viable third option, whether it be Windows Phone or BlackBerry 10. Erwin confirmed Verizon would sell a BlackBerry 10 smartphone when Research in Motion launches them in the first quarter.
But for now, Verizon will lean heavily on the upcoming next iPhone and Android, as illustrated by its event with Motorola, in which the companies unveiled three different Droid Razr smartphones.
"These phones are an important part of our lineup," Walden said, adding that the phones would get significant promotion during the holiday season.