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Verizon's Bobby Morrison at WTIA TechNW 2011

Microsoft’s Windows Phone has been a recurring theme at the Washington Technology Industry Association’s TechNW conference this morning in Seattle. Especially among the local audience, clearly there’s a lot of interest in the Redmond company’s mobile comeback bid.

But the comments from speakers across the mobile industry make it clear that the jury is still out on the company’s prospects even for becoming a solid No. 3 behind Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. That’s even taking into account Microsoft’s partnership with mobile phone giant Nokia.

“That third spot seems to be a jockeying spot that many are kind of playing for,” said Bobby Morrison, president of the Pacific Northwest region for Verizon Wireless. “Who rises to the No. 3 position, I think time will tell.”

Apart from Windows Phone, Morrison said he believes Research in Motion has “heard the market clearly” and is making the necessary changes to innovate. Without going into details, he also cited a possible wild card of mobile phone manufacturers coming up with their own new rival in mobile platforms.

The topic also came up on a subsequent panel. At least at the outset, Microsoft’s Nokia deal will clearly result in more Windows Phone sales, given Nokia’s size, said entrepreneur Michael “Luni” Libes of Mobile Intelligence Solutions. However, it’s still not clear if the same panel in five years would be talking about Microsoft with the same degree of interest.

That said, the Nokia deal is critical for Microsoft to be considered a legitimate player. Bryan Trussel, the CEO of mobile location startup Glympse, said his company wouldn’t be looking seriously at Windows Phone as a platform if not for the Nokia deal.

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