Updated 12:40 p.m. PDT with Microsoft comment.
Verizon executives sure seem busy this week: in addition to reported discussions with Apple over next-generation mobile devices, they're also supposedly talking to Microsoft about a smartphone.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Microsoft and Verizon are talking about launching "a touch-screen multimedia cell phone on the carrier's network early next year." The phone is supposedly based on the "Pink" software that had been rumored earlier this year as a combination of Windows Mobile and Zune software. Microsoft would likely get somebody else (HTC is a solid bet) to make the actual phone, but engineer the software and services angle itself.
Launching such a phone on Verizon would give the carrier a hedge if AT&T manages to extend its exclusive deal with Apple and the iPhone. It's not hard to see the various leaks surrounding Verizon, AT&T, Apple, and Microsoft in recent weeks as trial balloons floated by the various companies in hopes of improving their negotiating position.
Microsoft and Verizon declined to comment on the report.
Updated 12:40 p.m. - Microsoft representatives decided to throw together a statement after all on the Verizon report. Here it is: "Microsoft's strategy has not changed, it is and has always been to provide a software platform for the industry. We work closely with many mobile operators and device makers around the world because customers want different experiences on a variety (of) phones."