Microsoft's smartphone gets off to a bad start

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Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which is desperately trying to develop an alternative to the Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone, is going to need to come up with a better name.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft has given the touch-screen multimedia cell phone that it's developing with Verizon Wireless the code-name "Pink." Details of the phone are almost as vague as its moniker.

As the Journal pointed out, "It would also likely include Microsoft's new Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a store for cellphone downloads along the lines of Apple's App Store. . ." Microsoft apparently is leaving the design to others.

The news about "Pink" is not a surprise. Microsoft and Verizon have been rather chummy lately. As PC World noted, Verizon has agreed to make Microsoft's Live Search program the default engine for its phones. There also have been rumors that Verizon would sell the iPhone once AT&T Inc.'s (T) exclusivity arrangement ends.

Microsoft has a long, illustrious history of creating stupid brand names such as Microsoft Bob, Microsoft Genuine Advantage, .Net and Zune, but this one may wind up topping them all.

Problem number one is that code-name Pink sounds like an cheesy porn movie from the 1970s, or maybe a long-forgotten cartoon character.

Further complicating Microsoft's efforts are reports that "Pink" the pop singer (real name Alecia Moore ) plans to open a chain of strip clubs and perform in them. She is allegedly taking lessons. There are no doubt tons of strip clubs with the word "pink"' in the title, for reasons you should ask your mother about if you don't know already.

For doctors and nurses, "Code Pink" can mean that a child has been abducted from the hospital. To be sure, pink is not all evil. Pork that's cooked medium well is perfectly safe to eat. Pink flowers such as carnations are also lovely. But that does not lessen the challenge Microsoft.

Code Pink has mostly made the news lately in the form of what has been described as a woman-led organization called CODEPINK which made a name for itself opposing the Iraq War. Medea Benjamin, one of the group's co-founders, said she wasn't worried about the potential for confusion with the Microsoft phone.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," she told the DailyFinance.

Still, let's hope that a stupid code name won't yield an even dumber product.
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