After the Windows Phone 7 launched passed without so much as a mention, Project Pink, Microsoft's other new phone project, started to fade into memory. Today, we can confirm: Pink is coming, and Verizon's the carrier.
A tipster passed us an extensive set of marketing materials, in which a promotional plan for Pink is laid out in detail. (The firm, and most of the proposed campaign's contents, need to be kept anonymous for the sake of the tipster.) The documents don't talk about specs or software details, but there's plenty we can learn:
• The early Pink renders leaked to us back in September? Those are exactly the same ones included in the proposal, passed to the advertising firm by Microsoft.
• Of the two phones in prior leaks, only one shows up here: The Turtle vertical slider. It's a messaging phone, basically - one part Pre, and two parts Sidekick. (Or maybe three.)
• Verizon is a launch partner for the device, and probably an exclusive carrier. The branding and marketing in the documents suggests a joint Microsoft/Verizon launch, but another carrier isn't completely out of the question.
• The phones aren't running Windows Phone 7, unless it's hidden behind a different interface. Virtually all rumours around the Pink platform implied as much, and again, this appears to be something fundamentally different.
• Social Networking! It's all over the proposal, and presumably, the phone.
• It's suggested that the platform has apps of some sort. For a phone like this to share apps with Windows Phone 7 is pretty much impossible - the minimum hardware requirement for a Windows Phone look out of reach for this little black lump - so this one's a big question mark. Is it another SDK? Or closed app development like we've seen on the Zune HD? Web apps?
Since the documents come from a party working with Microsoft, a few things are missing: there's no mention of a release name for the product (Pink is the codename we've been using, but the launch title could be different); and there's no date. The documents are just days old, and hint at a near-term launch, which would be inline with what we've been hearing about a second Microsoft phone launch at or around CTIA at the end of this month. And remember, these are marketing materials, designed to promote a launch, not just an announcement. In other words, Pink, or whatever the hell it is, will likely beat Windows Phone 7 to market. So that explains all those tweets, I guess.
All these missing pieces add up to a massive gap, not just in the phone's feature sheet, but in our understanding of what it's supposed to be. If it's a replacement for the Sidekick, the obvious question is, is anyone asking for a replacement for the Sidekick? If it's just a Microsoft-branded feature phone, er, why? Doesn't the future of youth/budget phones all about scaled-back smartphones (see: Pixi, Backflip), and not glorified feature phones?
UPDATE: More insiders have come forward, and now we have a possible timeframe: Late April. Oh, and there are two phones, as implied by the original leak. The second, according to our tipster, is the Pure horizontal slider, pictured below:
So these two phones - the Sharp PB10ZU and the PB20ZU - there are names for them but I can't tell you what they are, cause Verizon may just put out different code names in order to find out where any leaks occur. And frankly the names are really really awful sounding so I hope what I've been told aren't the final names anyway...
Apparently the interface shares some aesthetic elements with Windows Phone 7, albeit with "some sort of UI skin/more of a social-networking edge to [it] ." As for release, apparently Verizon is "looking at a late April launch date," though this isn't set in stone. [Thanks, Tipsters!]