NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In just three years, the fast-growing smartphone market has narrowed to a two-player race between Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iOS and Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android. But try telling that to Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report).
The Redmond, Wash. tech titan has been gearing up for the launch of its Windows Phone 7 operating system, the long-awaited and boldest attempt yet to re-enter into the mobile phone business next month.
The huge move will test two commonly held beliefs in tech. One, that Microsoft has lost its engineering wherewithal, which has lead to the ebbing of its leadership over the software sector.
And two, it would disprove the growing sense that the market has already picked its two winners, leaving Microsoft firmly planted in the dust.Microsoft, however, isn't going to let the mobile market slip through its hands. If nothing else, it has a huge pile of money -- $36.8 billion in the bank -- to make sure that won't happen. "You could buy your way in, if you are Microsoft," said Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum, who predicts that Windows Phone 7 will attain 15% operating system market share in two years. "This is a market where a deep balance sheet will help Microsoft determine where they want to go." One good use of Microsoft's money is marketing and sales. A big ad blitz will likely get the Windows Phone 7 name in circulation; bankrolling a portion of the customer's phone cost would make both buyers and telcos happy. "With