Microsoft’s Terry Myerson Sees Windows Phone As A “Well-Funded Startup,” Downplays Smartphone Rumors

Microsoft Windows Phone chief Terry Myerson took the stage at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference this morning, and wanted to make it very clear that he sees Windows Phone a little differently than others might.

Given that Windows Phone is still an underdog when it comes to the mobile OS arms race, it’s not exactly a surprise to hear Myerson characterize the WP team as a scrappy (albeit “incredibly well-funded”) startup operating within Microsoft — especially since Myerson himself helmed a startup that was ultimately acquired.

As such, there are certain places where Windows Phone is performing admirably (Fried points to recent reports that Windows Phone is outselling Apple’s iPhone in certain markets) and Myerson says Microsoft is keen to capitalize on those hotspots where they can. That’s not to say that Microsoft isn’t committed to making a splash in the United States where Windows Phone hasn’t been able to move the needle very much, but Microsoft seems eager to strike wherever those potentially fruitful opportunities arise.

“We need to be successful somewhere before we can be successful everywhere,” he said.

When asked by ATD’s Ina Fried about where Microsoft sees opportunities to go after the competition, Myerson noted that Windows Phone is meant to focus on the consumer, and hesitantly poked at some of Microsoft’s more prominent rivals. “With Apple I sense a lack of urgency,” he said before jabbing at the latest version of iOS and the 5th row of apps and referring to Android as “kind of a mess.”

Of course, Windows Phone’s success is just as dependent on the hardware as it is on the OS that runs on it, and Myerson talked up the sort of measured approach that Microsoft has been sticking to on that front.

“We’re not necessarily going out and pushing for lots and lots of OEMs, he noted, adding that watching manufacturers like Nokia, HTC, and Huawei find success with their Windows Phones is what’s “really important right now.” Even so, rumors of even more Microsoft-crafted hardware in the pipeline (think a smartphone or a wrist-worn computing device) continue to make the rounds. Myerson was quick to downplay the notion that Microsoft would cobble together a smartphone of its own by pointing out that Microsoft would have to provide a consumer experience that current OEM partners couldn’t. That said, one could look at the Surface as a strong example of Microsoft doing just that, so I wouldn’t rule out a Microsoft smartphone entirely.