Verizon will offer a free device running Windows Phone 8 before the end of this year according a report from The Verge.
Verizon Wireless CMO Tami Erwin told The Verge that Verizon will soon offer a Windows Phone 8 devices free on contract in addition to phones at the $99 and $199 price tiers. Verizon already announced it will carry the Nokia Lumia 822 and Windows Phone 8X for $99 and $199, respectively.
Verizon also announced that it will carry the Samsung ATIV Odyssey in December, which could be the free option for Microsoft’s platform. An image of the phone recently leaked online and seemed to indicate that it is a low-end or mid-range smartphone. A lower-end Samsung device would make sense as the free option on Verizon.
Verizon hasn’t announced any other Windows Phones for 2012, so if the ATIV Odyssey isn’t free the carrier will need to announce a fourth device.
No other U.S. carrier offers a free option for Windows Phone 8. At the moment the least expensive WIndows Phone 8 devices is the Nokia Lumia 820 on AT&T which costs $49 on a two-year contract.
Even a low-end Windows Phone will likely have specs similar to those of the Lumia 820 because Microsoft limits the options for WIndows Phone 8 specs. It is possible to offer a slower processor than the one in the Lumia 820 variants, but the slower specs get closer to the realm of the Lumia 610 which is a phone made for emerging markets.
A free Windows Phone 8 devices will go up against phones like the two-year-old iPhone 4 and lower range Android devices like the Pantech Marauder.
Free smartphones are a good entry point for users who are new to smartphones, and Windows Phone 8 is relatively easy for first time users. A free phone can help Microsoft’s platform gain more traction among users, which it needs to better compete with Apple and Google.