Gold said Ballmer was being "opportunistic" in his praise of HTC. "Don't forget, Ballmer is a salesman first and foremost, and of course he's going to play up a new device release, just as he did when Nokia announced last month," Gold said.
"Nokia has not hit all the sales projections that Nokia would have liked," Gold said. "But Microsoft understands it is investing in the market, so you have to have a portfolio of products approach. That means you have to push as many Windows Phone devices as you can from multiple vendors."
With less than a 5% share of the global smartphone market, Windows Phone needs to take advantage of multiple vendor smartphones to gain share, and the vendors know upfront that is what needs to happen, analysts said.
Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner, said it is logical for Ballmer to praise HTC since they have been partners for 15 years and HTC was one of the first vendors to launch the original version of Windows Phone.
With HTC, Windows Phone 8 offers new opportunity, since things haven't gone well with HTC and the Android ecosystem, she added. Meanwhile, "Nokia is putting Nokia and Lumia ahead of Microsoft because they care about creating stickiness to their own brand and ecosystem within the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem," Milanesi said.
Nokia may see the need to push its own brand in part to dispel rumors over the past 19 months that Microsoft would buy Nokia, analysts said. Ironically, several bloggers said that Microsoft's strong endorsement for HTC could be an indication that Microsoft wants to buy HTC.
The companies would not comment on such speculation. Gold said he couldn't envision Microsoft buying any phone manufacturer. "After the Danger acquisition and the Kin disaster, I think Microsoft understands they shouldn't be in phone manufacturing," he said.
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