In a last ditch effort to gain a foothold in the cellphone industry, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer unveiled his company’s latest smart phone this past Monday. The new phone earned favourable reviews.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for some time,” Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said, showing off nine phone models at a launch event in New York.

To quote consumer analyst Jack Gole of J. Gold Associates, “This is Microsoft’s last chance to be a major player in the smartphone market … Microsoft will be required to undertake a massive consumer education campaign if it wants to stand a chance of differentiating itself from iPhone and Android, which have far greater market presence.”

STEVE BALLMER MAKES LAST-DITCH PITCH WITH SMARTPHONE

The new phone will have a look and feel similar to Apple’s iPhone, with colourful touch-screens and “live” tiles to access email, the internet, music, and most importantly, XBox games. They look attractive and most importantly, fun.  British actor and writer Stephen Fry, known to be a big “Apple guy,” praised the phones on stage at a launch event in London.

“When I got one of these (phones) my first feeling was it’s fun to play with. I have felt enormous pleasure using this phone,” Fry said. “Yes, I love Apple, but I’m not a monotheist. I want biodiversity in this market and all of us that love it should welcome that too.”

This phone looks attractive not only in terms of price. Due to the increasing XBox gamer market it may have a chance of  competing with the iPhone, Android and Blackberry Smart Phones.

Three of the phones will initially be available on AT&T Inc.’s network in the United States beginning in November at a starting price of $200. As a result of the conference, Microsoft shares rose by 10 cents at $24.67 on NASDAQ in early afternoon trading of that day. AT&T shares rose by 5 cents at $28.27 on the NYSE.